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Youth dove hunts provide a gateway to the outdoors

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) provides several youth dove hunt opportunities throughout the state each fall. A simple hunting setup combined with a fun, family-friendly atmosphere makes WFF’s youth dove hunts an ideal way to introduce young people to the outdoors.

Registration for this year’s hunts will open at 8 a.m. on August 16, 2021. Although the hunts are free, online registration is required. The first youth dove hunts of the 2021 season begin on September 4. For more information including a complete hunt schedule, visit www.outdooralabama.com/youth-hunting/youth-dove-hunts.

Brenda and Pete Burns of Spanish Fort, Alabama, took their daughter, Sydney, to a youth dove hunt in Macon County in October of 2020. Sydney, who was 9 at the time, has been hunting with her parents each year since she was 4 years old.

In addition to providing a fun, outdoor experience, Brenda said the youth dove hunts are a great way for kids to take a break from screen time and learn about the value of harvesting their own food.

“Hunting for food is a natural part of life,” she said. “These experiences have taught Sydney not everything we eat comes from a grocery store or restaurant.”

Brenda was born in Alaska but grew up in Alabama and was taught how to hunt squirrels and rabbits by her uncle in Coffeeville. She and Pete are proud to pass on their hunting traditions to their daughter through programs like WFF’s youth dove hunts.

“Sydney has always had an interest in hunting from listening to our stories and she wants to become a better hunter herself,” Brenda said. “We will definitely take her on more youth hunts as they become available.”

To participate in the hunts, youth hunters must be age 15 or younger and accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old (or a parent) who has a valid state hunting license, a Harvest Information Program (HIP) stamp and a Conservation ID number.

Alabama’s youth dove hunt events are held in open fields and staffed by WFF personnel, which encourages a safe, secure environment for both parents and participants. Before each hunt, a short welcome session with reminders on hunting safety will be conducted. All hunters are encouraged to wear eye protection and earplugs.

Doves are migratory and covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has special rules and regulations that apply to dove hunting which all hunters must follow. To review the Alabama Cooperative Extension System recommendations for plantings related to dove management, visit www.outdooralabama.com/what-hunt/mourning-dove-hunting-alabama.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.