An Unforgettable Dove Hunt… I Wish They’d Let Me Forget

Finally, I was old enough to shoot my break-open .410 shotgun without it knocking me to the ground, but my dad had recently gotten severely hurt in a horse riding accident and was unable to take me on my first dove hunt.

I was heartbroken; not only was my hero stuck in bed with his arm, leg, and ribs broken, but we also couldn’t do all the things we had planned to do, like going on my first dove hunt. 

Thankfully, my grandpa was willing to walk through his pasture with a five-year-old boy on a hot September afternoon. 

The author as a boy with his grandfather looking for doves.
The author as a boy with his grandfather looking for doves.

So, we planned my first dove hunt, and I excitedly waited in anticipation.

The day finally arrived. My grandpa and I began walking through his pastures in the hope of flushing a dove or possibly catch one flying by. 


But nothing was flying, and I wasn’t quick enough to shoot the few that we happened to spook.

So, my hopes of shooting my first dove were quickly running out; it also didn’t help that my attention span was minimal. However, I was determined to shoot my first bird with my shotgun, so we marched on. 

Eventually, we made it to the back pond, and by some miracle, a dove was sitting at the top of a tree within range. 

I excitedly raised my barrel and dropped the hammer down on the dove sitting on the branch. I looked back at my grandpa and said, “I got it.” 

“Are you sure?” he asked as I handed him my gun and ran to pick up my first kill.

I searched and searched for the bird for what seemed like hours, but it was only a few minutes. 

Finally! I found it, grabbed it by the leg, and ran back to my grandpa, excited to show everyone my first bird. 

The young author loading his .410 shotgun.
The young author loading his .410 shotgun.

My grandma was the first to see it and tell me how proud she was of me. She even offered to wrap it up so I could take it home to my parents’ house. 

While I wish the story could end here, it doesn’t. Years later, I learned that 5-year-old me missed that day…

You see when I pulled the trigger of my .410 shotgun, the dove flew away unharmed, but I happened to miss that very critical detail in all my excitement. 

Now you can see why it took me so long to find a dead bird, and yes, I found a dead bird. One that had been dead for at least a week, if not longer! 

My grandpa says he couldn’t bear to break my spirits by telling me this bird had been dead a while and it wasn’t the dove I had aimed at, so he let me carry it back to his house.

He made faces and hand gestures at my grandma to let her know to fake it because the bird had clearly been dead a long time, but an excited five-year-old boy couldn’t tell that.

So, as I recounted our hunting expedition to her, she had the bright idea to send this bird to my parents, which I was more than willing to do.

While my grandparents still tell this story to try and embarrass me, I’ve learned to embrace it as part of my hunting background; after all, that’s one of the instances that initially hooked me on hunting.


I still have that old break-over shotgun, and when I’m feeling a little froggy, I’ll send a few 410 shells in the direction of a dove. 

But the most fun I have is dove hunting with my daughter and teaching her to shoot, continuing the family hunting tradition.

Wesley Littlefield is a seasoned outdoorsman and passionate hunter. With years of experience exploring the wilderness, Wesley seamlessly blends his love for nature with his talents as a skilled writer and photographer. His keen eye captures the essence of the great outdoors, while his words bring to life the thrill of the hunt.


    Leave a Reply

    XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    Shotgun Life Newsletters

    Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letters are for you.