Hunters take aim as new season opens - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hunters take aim as new season opens

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)--Matt Browder, 24 years old, has been hunting animals since the age of five, including doves. His dad taught him and it runs in his blood. That's why he was out with shotgun in hand on the first day of the season. 

"Anybody that's going to come out here in this September heat and deal with this heat, they gotta love it," said Browder.

However, the doves prized by Browder and the other hunters at Varner Tract in Hixson aren't the white ones you might see at magic shows. They're darker in color, and in keeping with long-time tradition they'll be taken home.

"We eat them, yeah! They're delicious grilled," explained Browder. "You can do pretty much anything with a dove. It's delicious."

For Amanda Ezell, who is relatively new to the hunting world, it's not as much about cuisine as it is about togetherness.

"Being out with family, and it's something I do with my husband," said Ezell.

She doesn't mind being one of few females at the tract participating in a sport dominated by men. 

"[They] aggravate and tease, but I'm used to it. So it's okay," said Ezell.

With a stable to slightly increasing dove population over the past several years, there's more than enough to go around; but according to a wildlife biologist at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), doves counteract their naturally weak defense mechanisms by reproducing several times a year. That leads to another reason why most folks came out to hunt--to keep the numbers in check.

"It helps regulate the animal population," explained Browder. "Dove hunting is something that helps regulate them and it's actually good for the population overall."

Thursday marked the beginning of the first of three dove hunting seasons in the area. The next will be in October, followed by one in December. Each lasts around 25 days. So whether it's for tradition, food on the plate, or population control, there's no other way hundreds folks at Varner would have rather spent the first day of September.

"I'm excited, you know. I'm really excited," exclaimed Browder.

For more information on hunting regulations and permit costs, click here.

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