Hunters for the Hungry (HFTH) is a partnership between the Georgia Wildlife Federation, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division of DNR and the Georgia Food Bank Association that has provided over a million meals to hungry Georgians. HFTH allows hunters to donate field-dressed deer to processors, who then distribute the processed meat to food banks throughout Georgia. With 13 processing sites around the state, HFTH helps Georgians in need, as well as hunters trying to correctly manage their deer harvest. Over the past 24 years, this program has provided meals to more than 1,088,748 hungry Georgians, and processed over 362,916 pounds of venison. That’s almost 11% of Georgia’s population being effected by HFTH!
Are you tired of going to the grocery store and paying premium prices for organic meat? Consider venison – an all-natural, low-fat meat source. With lower cholesterol levels than turkey and chicken and nearly a quarter of the fat of beef, venison offers a delicious and healthy alternative to the meat you’ll find at your local grocery store. One ounce of raw venison contains 34 calories, only 0.7 grams of total fat (0.3 grams of which is saturated), 24 mg of cholesterol and 7 grams of protein. Venison is also high in potassium and iron.
I always loved being in the outdoors as a child. I remember walking in the woods around the small streams on my families’ property, sifting through the pebbles and rocks in hopes of finding a lost arrow head or piece of flint. Picking up vibrant, fall blackgum leaves on the forest floor and getting lost in the deep yellow, red, and almost purple hues. While I always enjoyed my time in the woods, it wasn’t until my late teens when I started hunting that I really started to appreciate and care for what I was so deeply enthralled. Hunting really drove me to learn about the animals, plants, and ecology of it all. It provided me with a hobby that kept me in the woods and cleared my mind. I had a few mentors here and there and picked up tips and tricks whenever possible. There are many invaluable do and don’ts that every new hunter should know of, but also many tricks of the trade that might not be as obvious. Doing research, asking around, and learning from many passionate and dedicated hunters has been summed up in this list that should help any novice or experienced hunter have more success and excitement in the woods.
Before going dove hunting this year, check out these 15 tips on how to mind your manners on the field! And don’t forget to purchase your Georgia Migratory Bird Stamp at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com.
- Mindfulness – The most important key to a successful dove hunt, for yourself and your neighbors on the field, is to be mindful of your surroundings. Be aware of gun safety, what your hunting party is doing and what the hunters around you are doing, even in all of the excitement. Things can happen quickly. Everyone is looking for birds and where birds went down. Keeping up your situational awareness will make for a better hunt for you and everyone around you.
- “Low Bird” – If you hear someone call, “low bird,” DON’T SHOOT! We all know what it sounds like, but it actually means that the bird is too low for a safe shot.
- Spacing – Establish with the hunters on either side of you who is shooting where, and give your fellow hunters their space. You don’t want to shoot at the same birds. Be aware of your zone of fire. You don’t have 180 degrees of fire if you have people on either side of you.
- Fields – Some public lands have more than one dove field. Dove fields will be marked on maps. If one field is crowded, try another.
- Dogs (Yours) – If you brought a dog to a dove shoot, be mindful of your dog, where they are and what birds they pick up. Some dogs are better on a leash. Dogs can’t tell which bird is which, so if your dog picks up another hunter’s bird, please return the bird to the hunter who shot it. Let them know, “Hey, my dog got your bird,” and return it to them.
- Dogs (Theirs) – Be mindful of any dog that might be out in the field so your shots are careful.
- Trash/Spent Shells – Clean up behind you. Be sure to pick up your trash and spent shotgun shells.
- Gun Safety – Know what’s behind where you’re shooting, and know where your shot will fall. Remember what you learned in hunter safety. Shotguns can still cause terrible accidents. You may be hunting near a lot of people, so muzzle control is key.
- Equipment/Structures – Be aware of equipment, buildings or irrigation structures near a field so you can avoid damaging them, especially if someone was kind enough to let you hunt on their property.
- ATVs – Ask yourself if you’re primarily hunting, or if you’re primarily riding on an ATV. Try to keep vehicles hidden, and be courteous to other hunters. Don’t drive an ATV through the middle of a shoot!
- Hunter Orange – Birds can see color. If you’re hunting near someone else and wear hunter orange in the field, you could scare the birds away for both of you.
- Kids – Dove hunts are a great opportunity to teach kids how to hunt. It’s a great situation where the adults can keep track of what’s going on. If there are kids on the hunt, even if they’re not in your group, go ahead and let them go and have fun. If a kid wants to pick what you thought was a good spot, let them, even if you wanted it. Let the kids run out on the field to pick up their birds first. Let it be a good, fun day for everyone.
- Birds – If the birds are flying in thick, you might want to continue shooting before heading out into the fields to pick up your birds.
- Water — September dove hunting is HOT in Georgia! Bring plenty of water so you are comfortable and well-hydrated in the field. If you brought a dog, they can get overheated on dove fields, so be sure to bring water for your four-legged hunting buddy, too.
- Last, but by no means least: Close the gate behind you – If you’re allowed to hunt on someone’s property, honor the requests they make. Go only where you have permission to go. Be respectful of what you have permission to do and where you’re supposed to be. Be respectful of the property and the person who is giving you permission to be there.
Hunt and Learn events give young hunters (ages 10-17) and their supervisors hands-on experience learning important skills and conservation knowledge. These classes are geared toward all experience levels and are set up in three tiers: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Every Hunt and Learn event accommodates all three experience levels. Classes include the basics of squirrel, deer, rabbit, quail, falconry or turkey hunting. Participants learn the biology and history of the animal and how to dress and care for harvested game.
The 2017-2018 hunting seasons and regulations are here! The Hunting Regulations Guide will be on shelves and on-line soon, but while we wait, here’s a sneak peak at some of the major changes and new opportunities for Georgia hunters coming this year!
Okay, so I am thinking about applying for a quota hunt this year. I am a relatively new hunter, but in conversations with my more experienced hunting friends, I am told that a quota hunt might just help me land that deer I really want.
Wild turkey is very lean, so it’s a challenge to keep the meat moist. The mushrooms, cooked in butter, and the pastry shell help keep the turkey breast from drying out. A little bacon doesn’t hurt, either. Fancy mushrooms and shallots aren’t necessary to make a flavorful duxelles (pronounced: “duke-sell”) for this wellington. Button mushrooms and onion still cook up with tons of flavor.
From March until August, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is promoting the Georgia Coyote Challenge. This program not only encourages the lethal removal of coyotes for wildlife management purposes, but also presents participants with an opportunity to win a lifetime hunting/fishing license (or credit for purchase)—thanks to the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation. This program was developed for the management of wildlife in Georgia, which is an important factor for conservation of our natural resources.