I consider them the most egalitarian of gamebirds in that they're widespread, numerous and you don't need any specialized equipment or tactics to hunt them.
They don't require a boat, decoys, dogs or calls. They don't make you chase them and when you do manage to hit them they have the grace and courtesy to die fairly easily. Even a half-wit can quickly grasp the basics of dove hunting: find a spot, sit down, and when a bird flies by you shoot at it once, twice or thrice depending on skill and/or luck.
As such, they are easily our most popular gamebird. And therein lies the problem with dove: their familiarity breeds a certain degree of if not contempt then at least a sort of one-dimensional thinking in that the entire arc of the popular notion of the dove-hunting experience can be described in one sentence: Opening day dove shoot.
That's it. That one image conjures up notions of the traditional southern social event, the big party hunt where everyone gets together, has a great time, shoots lots of birds, shoots lots of bull and then packs up, goes home and gets ready for the rest of the"real" hunting seasons to open up.
Basically, dove are considered a one-time celebratory kick-off. And that's it. The vast, and I mean vast majority of dove hunters give absolutely no post-opening weekend thought to the little buggers at all.
Which is a shame, really. Because once you get past the action-packed barrel-burning salvos of opening weekend, dove hunting can be a very mellow and contemplative activity. It gives you time to think. And what's hunting without thinking? Some of my most cherished and memorable hunts have been spent sitting under a windmill with the dog, watching the sky and shooting nowhere near a limit.
Hopefully a few dove will be flying. And if I'm lucky I might shoot a few. Or I might not. Either way is fine by me. I can certainly think of worse ways to dwell on one's life.