Spending Time With People You Enjoy
By Amber Haynes, McKenna Quinn
September marks the end of summer and school. Homework, and busy weeks return, but more importantly…dove season begins! I’m fortunate to have a father who took me hunting often as a child. I grew up playing in dove fields and later hunting alongside him. To me, dove hunting has always been an opportunity to spend time with people you enjoy. A few years ago, I had the chance to begin hosting my own dove hunt. Through my business, McKenna Quinn, I have had the privilege of meeting women who share a love and understanding of the outdoors and for the bonds that hunting together forms. I deeply love bird hunting, the pride behind a good shot, when my dog retrieves my birds, and how bird hunting is in its nature social. Time spent together in the field has created some of my strongest friendships. Given this opportunity to host a hunt, I knew I wanted to host a ladies’ dove hunt. A hunt designed for women to hunt and meet other likeminded women. My goal when hosting is to create an experience where the newest hunter feels just as comfortable as the seasoned hunter. I’ve learned that some ladies feel more comfortable bringing their significant other, so men are welcome to attend. I also was privileged to have a few dads bring their daughters to the hunts. I, of course, brought my dad.
The first year the dove hunt filled within four weeks of being announced so I reached out to Outfitter Steve Wilson to help me find a good location to hunt. Having hunted with Steve for many years, I knew he would find a great spot with plenty of birds. Steve put us in one of his fields in Pearsall with tons of birds. Ladies from Austin, Houston, and San Antonio came out that day, one brought her two children along with her. They had driven in from football practice for the hunt, and her son could not be more excited to go hunting with his mom. He was the first person that day to shoot his limit; in fact, I don’t think there was a bird that flew by that he didn’t hit. Later, he was asked who taught him to shoot so well; he didn’t hesitate to answer, “my mom taught me.” The daughter equally comfortable in the field brought her camera, and took the most beautiful photos of our hunt, ones that I still treasure. Another couple from Austin; the wife was actively involved in a gun dog training club brought her dog to the hunt. Her beautiful golden retriever, Bravo, was not only a treat to watch work, but he also diligently retrieved for several of our hunters. Although some of the ladies knew each other before the hunt, most did not, and it didn’t take long for everyone to meet and start connecting. The birds were plentiful, and many ladies limited out quickly. A perfectly timed light rain shower ended the hunt, followed by a cooler temperature. Grateful for the weather change we all sat down to eat a catered dinner in the field, which provided a terrific opportunity to visit and connect even more.
Last year I hosted the second annual McKenna Quinn Ladies Dove Hunt, and again with Steve’s help, we secured another great spot, this time in Hondo. The hunt sold out quickly, and I was thrilled to have several repeat hunters from the previous year. This time I opened up more hunting spots than the previous year and was incredibly excited to have close friends and several new faces join in. Two sweet sisters signed up for the hunt early on. Having grown up hunting, they were excited for a ladies’ only hunting weekend. Another young lady drove in from Houston and brought her beautiful English Cocker, Bella. She quickly shot a limit of dove with her 28 gauge over and under with Bella working obediently by her side. We also had several father-daughter teams, one dad who brought his twelve-year-old daughter for her first ever dove hunt. Another mom brought her sons.. This time we had freshly baked pizzas delivered to the hunters while they waited for the birds to come in.
I’ve had a wonderful time hosting these hunts. I deeply admire the ladies I get to meet and love seeing mothers and fathers bring their children. These are the moments that remind me of my childhood and represent how I hope to raise my daughters. I also admire the ladies that come out together or alone and confidently and capably hunt. I praise their willingness to take that risk and enjoy themselves in the outdoors. I treasure the couples that enjoy the field together. I look forward to the next ladies dove hunt all year long, and for the people I get to meet through this annual event.