Texas Dove Hunters

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TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com

Official Publication of the Texas Dove Hunters Association

SPRING 2022

AMBER HAYNES

BRINGING CLASS & STYLE TO THE FIELD

SANDHILL CRANE HUNTS

GROWING IN POPULARITY

CONNOR THIGPEN A KID TO WATCH

GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF HUNTERS AND WILDLIFE AMBASSADORS


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Dove Hunters Magazine

Official Publication of the Texas Hunters Association

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com

..........................

Publisher TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS, LLC Editor SUSAN THORNTON Graphic Design STUDIO SYKES

10 ON OUR COVER

Amber Haynes

A dynamic woman growing the community and a lifestyle of lady hunters in Texas

CONTENTS ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: 8

16 Sandhill Crane Hunting The sport has become increasingly popular in the last few years.

Founders letter

20 Texas BB Challenge 24 Ladies in the Field 26 Outfitters in Texas 28 Connor Thigpen 32 Hunt with Heart 36 Families in the Field 38 Traveling with Firearms 42 Photos from the Field

28 Connor Thigpen

He went on his first dove hunt at the age of five and now he’s taking the shooting world by storm.

44 Hunting in Argentina 46 TDHA Store 47 Recipe 48 Non-profit

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA 6 | SPRING 2022

Contributing Photographers JULIO AGUILO ATA GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY JARRETT EVERETT PAW PICS BY JENNIFER LUGO JOSH POOLE JAY SCHWISOW Contributors SCOTT ASHTON GEOFF EMERY HOLLY HEARN MEREDITH KAY REIS LADD BRITT LONGORIA NATE SKINNER Advertising Sales CINDY JENNINGS Printing SHWEIKI MEDIA, SAN ANTONIO, TX Cover Photo By ATA GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY BY TAMMY BLALOCK

.......................... FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION CALL 210.764.1189 EMAIL info@TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com

.......................... TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS MAGAZINE is published bi-annually by Texas Dove Hunters, LLC (Publisher). Reproduction in any manner in whole or part is prohibited without the express written consent of the Publisher. Material contained herein does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher or its staff. TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS MAGAZINE reserves the right to edit materials for clarity and space and assumes no responsibility for accuracy, errors or omissions. TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS MAGAZINE does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertisements or editorial, nor does the Publisher assume responsibility should such advertising or editorial appear. Articles and photographs are welcome and may be submitted to our office to be used subject to the discretion and review of the publisher. Printed in the U.S.A. © 2022 Texas Dove Hunters, LLC. 2395 Bulverde Rd., Suite 104 Bulverde, TX 78163 210-764-1189 texasdovehunters.com



LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER

A

nother dove season is in the books. The 2021-2022 season was excellent for some but a huge disappointment for many hunters. Last year’s freeze played a large part in the movement of the birds, moving some to town, some far south, and some did not survive. Wet weather was a substantial factor especially in the north. Grainfields were harvested later than usual, so the mourning dove had plenty to eat and drink and were in no hurry to move south. Record numbers of acres of milo were planted in the Rio Grande Valley, slowing the progression of the white wing’s movement to the north. This result was that once local birds in the central part of the state were hunted, the numbers were extremely light. But there’s always next year. It’s not too early to start planning next season’s hunts. Some outfitters are already completely booked. If you don’t have a place that you go regularly, think about what part of the state you want to hunt and explore the options for outfitters and leases. Call ahead to be sure you have the space reserved. Now is also a perfect time to work on your shooting skills and the shot that gave you the most trouble this past season. There are sporting clays courses all over the state where you can practice. Dove hunting has and will always be my favorite, but sometimes it’s fun to try other fowl hunts. Ducks are always a great experience, and quail, chucker, and pheasant bring lots of excitement, especially if you can work behind a dog. Planted birds are a great option if you’re itching to get out now and not wait until next year. Shooting planted birds is lots of fun and can be done in the off-season. Have you ever tried hunting Sandhill Crane? I highly recommend it. I went on my first crane hunt this past season, and I can hardly wait to go again next year. Be sure and check out our different membership levels in this issue. Hats are back by popular demand. Also, we will be in Fort Worth at the DUX Expo, and in Houston and San Antonio at the TTHA Hunters Extravaganza. Please stop by the booth and to say hello! Take a kid hunting,

Bobby Thornton

MISSION STATEMENT Texas Dove Hunters Association promotes strong family unity through hunting and outdoor programs. We are committed to research, education and habitat conservation. 8 | SPRING 2022


TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS ASSOCIATION CORPORATE OFFICE 2395 Bulverde Rd., Suite 104 Bulverde, TX 78163 Off: (210) 764-1189 Fax: (866) 233-0507 email: info@txdove.com texasdovehunters.com

FOUNDER Bobby Thornton

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Susan Thornton

Custom Hunting and Outdoor Gear ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Myrna Hassfield

blakejonesdesigns.com

PHOTOGRAPHER

Jay Schwisow

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Christine Sykes

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 9


FEATURE

AMBER HAYNES

A Catalyst for Women to Reach Their Full Potential in the Outdoors By Nate Skinner Photography by Tammy Blalock


T

he amount of women getting involved in hunting, fishing, and shooting sports is seemingly growing by the day. Amber Haynes is an individual that has definitely been a catalyst for this movement. She built a platform and community geared towards motivating females to feel confident and comfortable in the outdoors through her company, McKenna Quinn. McKenna Quinn is a brand that manufactures elegant ladies’ outdoor apparel, and the company’s roots in the out-of-doors run deep. As the founder and owner of the company, Haynes is an avid hunter, angler, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She found that the outdoor industry was lacking clothing that met women’s needs and created a solution. Haynes put just the right amount of “a woman’s touch” on an industry that has been historically dominated by males. In the process, she has reached and continues to reach countless women by introducing them to the outdoors.

the outdoors, and shotgunning only grew as she got older. Shooting skeet and sporting clays became a hobby for her during her teenage years. “My Dad ended up getting a Brittany Spaniel when I was in my early twenties, and that really motivated us to dive into the world of quail hunting,” she said. “The dog was so happy in the quail fields; that’s where we wanted to be.” With quail hunting dominating their focus, Haynes and her dad began traveling to different ranches, lodges, and outfits across Texas in pursuit of the upland game birds. “The places that we chased quail were beautiful,” Haynes admitted. “Everything was always so pretty and elegant. We would spend a morning or afternoon in the field and then go to an immaculate and luxurious lodge for lunch or supper. None of the clothing available for women at that time seemed appropriate for both the field and the dinner table. I always felt

Amber Haynes grew up in San Antonio and began dove hunting with her father at an early age. “I first made it out to the dove field with my Dad at age two,” Haynes said. “I still have pictures of myself helping tend to our hunting dogs when I was just a little girl while he was hunting doves.” Haynes says that she first started shooting a shotgun on dove hunts and actually hunting herself at around seven years old. “My dad always included me on his dove hunts,” Haynes elaborated. “Every September, he would invite me along on his hunts, and it became a tradition that I looked forward to each fall.” As a youngster, Haynes and her father dove hunted with Golden Retrievers. Some of her fondest and earliest memories from the dove field include several responsibilities, like making sure that their dogs didn’t wander off, picking up empty shells, and playing bird dog or retriever herself. “Hunting became special to me early on in life because it was an atmosphere where I always felt welcomed and never out of place,” Haynes said. According to Haynes, most of the dove hunting she participated in with her father during her childhood took place in the San Antonio area and on down towards Beeville. Haynes says that her exposure to hunting, TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 11


like I needed to change clothes between hunting and enjoying a meal.” Haynes says that this is what sparked her inspiration for McKenna Quinn. “As a woman, you want to feel confident, strong, and feminine or lady-like all at the same time,” she said. “My dream was to create clothing that was comfortable to hunt in, but that was also elegant, attractive, and appropriate for lunch or dinner settings.” Haynes says that McKenna Quinn launched in 2017. “I had pieced together a sample that represented what I thought would make an excellent hunting shirt for female wing shooters,” Haynes explained. “Once the initial sample design was finished, a friend of mine called me and said that she had some room in her booth at the Dallas Safari Club show. She encouraged me to bring my sample shirts to her booth at the show to see how the public would react to their design. I took three samples with me to that show and sold so many preorders that I was able to create enough revenue to pay for the first run of production. And just like that, McKenna Quinn was born.” 12 | SPRING 2022

About a month after her success at the 2017 Dallas Safari Club show, an outdoor sports store in Houston called Gordy & Sons Outfitters contacted her, wanting to stock the McKenna Quinn line of apparel in their shop. This further helped get the company off the ground and up and running. Haynes says that the name “McKenna Quinn” is something she came up with. “I wanted to come up with something that sounded outdoorsy, but also girly or lady-like at the same time,” she explained. “After doing some internet research and exploring, I finally settled on McKenna Quinn. Folks often ask me if McKenna Quinn is the name of an actual person, but it’s just a name I came across and really liked.” Haynes says that since the launch of McKenna Quinn, her company has grown and expanded each year. “When I launched the brand, we started with three shirts,” Haynes elaborated. “A long-sleeved shirt, a fishing shirt, and a Polo shirt.” From there, Haynes has added several pieces to the McKenna Quinn line each year, including upland hunting pants, various shirts, vests, and sweat-


ers, and other outerwear and accessories. McKenna Quinn products are available online at shopmckennaquinn.com, as well as at different family-owned dealers across Texas and the country, including Los Cazadores, Gordy & Sons Outfitters, Joseph and Sons, Rivers and Glen, Caliber Outdoors, and Etchen Fine Guns, to name a few. McKenna Quinn is also the preferred vendor for the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation. With the exception of the brand’s scarves, all McKenna Quinn products are American-made, and most are made in Texas. Almost immediately after McKenna Quinn was launched, Haynes began meeting the women who were buying her products. Most of them were interested in finding more

opportunities to go hunting or practice shooting. This motivated her to organize company-hosted events to provide women with opportunities to get involved in the outdoors. “In the summer of 2017, I hosted my first McKenna Quinn event at Joshua Creek Ranch,” Haynes said. “It consisted of nearly 100 ladies that came to shoot sporting clays and eat lunch together. To have that kind of attendance at my very first event was a reality check. I quickly realized that there were tons of women looking for hunting, shooting, and other outdoor opportunities that would fit into their busy lives and would make them feel welcomed.” Since her first event, Haynes has hosted 28 McKenna Quinn events, including ladies sporting clays shoots, introduction to shotgun


sports days, quail hunts, duck hunts, numerous dove hunts, driven shoots, simulated driven shoots, cast and blasts, and wild game and wine paired dinners, all designed to provide opportunities for women to enjoy the outdoors. Since 2017, McKenna Quinn events have provided shooting and hunting opportunities to approximately 500 women. “I’ve been very fortunate to team up with many great outfitters and ranches to put on these events, and I am extremely grateful for all of those relationships,” Haynes said. The McKenna Quinn 2022 event schedule currently includes the following: A snow goose hunt in Arkansas, a driven hunt at Kaian Vista Ranch, dove hunts with the Hiner Ranch, Steve Wilson, and Shane Johanson’s Sporting Adventures, a teal hunt in 2W Outfitters, and a cast and blast in upstate New York with Catskills Cast and Coverts for grouse and trout. Haynes is also working alongside Pam Young of Alamo Sporting Arms to launch a Texas GRITS (Girls Really Into Shooting ) chapter in the Hill Country. “Together, we will host monthly ladies shooting days,” Haynes said. Haynes currently lives in Boerne, TX, with her two daughters, ages 10 and 12, along with their black lab and English cocker spaniel. She was recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation as one

14 | SPRING 2022

of their 2021 We Will Not Be Tamed Ambassadors this past year and has also recently had the opportunity to work with Texas Wildlife Association to raise awareness of the value and the importance of the outdoors. “I am very appreciative of the opportunity to get to support these two organizations that do so much to protect and conserve the land and our hunting heritage,” Haynes said. Haynes says that she enjoys getting to create functional clothing that helps women feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident in the field. “But even more so, I deeply love that McKenna Quinn has become a platform that allows me to introduce women to the outdoors, as well as encourage them in their outdoor pursuits,” she admitted. “I believe that the outdoors provide healing for the soul, and that’s something that everyone should experience.” The only aspect of her life that Haynes finds more joy in is spending time outdoors with her two daughters. As a family of three, they regularly go hunting, fishing and pursue other outdoor adventures. It’s safe to say that McKenna Quinn is much more than a brand — It’s a community and a lifestyle that Haynes will continue to grow and expand in order to make a difference in the lives of women for many years to come.



RIBEYE OF THE SKY

Sandhill Crane Hunts on the Rise By Reis Ladd Photos by Jarrett Everett

I

t’s late December in south Texas, and myself, my dad, and my Papa, are lined up thirty yards apart along a mesquite brush line facing a turned under peanut field. The objective, to catch mourning doves heading back to roost, is frequently interrupted by a multi-note trumpeting call hundreds of feet overhead. Papa, sitting on his old pivoting dove bucket that doubles as an insulated ice chest, hollers and points, “Reiser, ribeye of the sky. Sandhill Cranes. You need to get you some of them.” It’s a flock of about a dozen pterodactyl esc birds flying south, low enough for us to notice their long skinny outstretched necks leading the way and their seemingly longer, skinnier legs trailing behind. The birds are flying in a lopsided “V” heading somewhere my young outdoorsman’s mind could only picture as quintessential crane haven. I chirp back, “Wait, Pop, you can hunt those?!” Sandhill Cranes have been legal to hunt in Texas for many years, but according to various sources within

16 | SPRING 2022

the industry, the popularity for the sport has increased significantly in the last few. Outfitters and Texas Parks and Wildlife officials attribute the rise in hunting to fewer geese wintering in Texas along with the influence of social media. Once involved in the sport, it is easy to see how hunters become infatuated. Per the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “North American Sandhill Cranes are collectively the most abundant of the world’s crane species with fossil records dating back at least 2.5 million years.” Their migratory range includes many parts of the United States, Canada, northern reaches of Mexico, and even northeastern portions of Siberia. Sandhill Cranes are also a long-lived bird, frequently living 20+ years in the wild. Millions of years of evolution combined with potentially hundreds of thousands of miles traveled in a lifetime results in a bird that poses great challenge to any hunter. Rhett Overman with Final Descent Outfitters out of Lubbock, TX states, “I give


cranes the most respect out of all of them (ducks & geese), they will pick you apart and humble you quick. The oldest banded bird we have been a part of was 27.”

Hunting Regulations Texas is one of seventeen states in the U.S. that holds a hunting season for Sandhill Cranes. Although the majority of the state hosts a season, the greatest concentrations of birds reside in the Panhandle and along the coast. Hunters should take special note of the regions closed to hunting within the state. The “Zone C Closed Area” is closed to hunting in order to protect the federally endangered Whooping Crane, which winters within the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge along the Texas coast. Whooping cranes will be larger and whiter than Sandhill Cranes, but do sometimes intermingle during their migration. Unlike waterfowl, it is in fact legal to take Sandhill Cranes with lead shot, but most outfitters suggest nontoxic shot in the blind for the occasional waterfowl traveling with the cranes. Similar to hunting other migratory game birds, the state of Texas requires Sandhill Crane hunters possess a valid Texas hunting license, Texas Migratory Game Bird Stamp, and the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Additionally,

Zone A Season: October 30, 2021 – January 30, 2022 Daily Bag Limit: 3 birds Possession Limit: 9 birds ...................................... Zone B Season: November 26,2021 – January 30, 2022 Daily Bag Limit: 3 birds Possession Limit: 9 birds ...................................... Zone C Season December 18, 2021 – January 23, 2022 Daily Bag Limit: 2 birds Possession Limit: 6 birds

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 17


Sandhill Crane hunters are required to possess a Federal Sandhill Crane Hunting Permit.

Tips and Tactics Traditionally, Sandhill Cranes are hunted in harvested crop fields with hunters set up over decoy spreads, most commonly hunting out of an A-Frame or layout blind. However, when it comes to success in hunting Sandhill Cranes, the name of the game is scouting, experience, and “The Hide”. Traveling to the areas of the state that host the largest concentrations of birds and utilizing reputable outfitters with experience hunting and scouting these creatures is arguably the best option for any hunter. However, be mindful, you can be positioned on “the X”, but if not hidden well enough to deceive the eyesight of a bird with millions of years of evolution, it is likely to be a slow morning. Hunters generally shoot 12 or 20 gauge steel shot with shot size varying from BB to 4 shot. Season dates are in the colder times of the year and it is common for hunters to wear bibs. Camouflage similar to the

surrounding vegetation is ideal, but neutral colored clothing will also work. Many guides run dogs, but wounded birds are often aggressive and a well-placed peck or slice from a claw can inflict serious damage on your retriever. Most dogs are outfitted with vests and even goggles for their protection. There are opportunities to hunt Sandhill Cranes on public land and it is possible to put together a DIY trip seeking to gain your own permission. If you were more interested in going with an outfitter you would find daily rates for around $300 per person. As a hunting guide myself, often times a client takes away something they were not expecting. For cranes, it is the sound. Imagine thousands of four foot tall trumpeting birds calling simultaneously as they soar overhead, working closer and closer towards your spread, feet down, five-foot wingspan outstretched, just in front of the blind. That scene alone will bring any hunter back again and again. Oh, and as far as the wellknown phrase “ribeye of the sky”, I asked Josh Lane of Redhead Lane Outfitting if Sandhill Cranes were really that good to eat after his 20 years guiding and his response was, “Ribeye of the sky? I would change it to filet mignon!”

18 | SPRING 2022


Celebrating 20 Years! It’s been a great 20 years! Laura Jane and I would

like to thank all of you who have been part of our lives. We look forward to the next 20!

Warmest Regards,

Joe & Laura Jane Elder

Corporate Upscale Wing Shooting Specializing in North and South Zone Dove Hunting • Fine Dining • Lodging Joe Elder • 830-317-0456 • joeelder@sbcglobal.net • P.O. Box 1239 • Uvalde, Texas 78802


2021 TEXAS BANDED BIRD CHALLENGE

PHOTO BY JAY SCHWISOW

nother year has passed, and the Texas BB Challenge continues to grow not only in entries but in prizes and number of bands turned in. With nearly 3,000 Eurasian Collared Dove banded and released in the past four years the odds of winning get better each year.

each year. Having completed our fourth year of collecting data, the findings continue to provide unexpected results. The easiest data to collect is time and distance traveled.

In 2021, 61 bands were reported and of those, 16 of the hunters were entered in the contest. This year, 800 more birds will be banded and released all across Texas. Release areas are selected according to differing habitats and places where a lot of hunting occurs. The results provide information on where and why the birds move. Most of the time the food source in the area is key but so is the weather. Some are released in the heavily wooded areas of east Texas where little grain is grown and in southwest Texas where the habitat is mostly brush, cactus and mesquite.

Four bands were reported from birds that were released in 2019. Of those four bands, three of birds had traveled about 400 miles to reach the Lubbock area where they were initially trapped. Directionally the majority of the bands reported are headed north. This is where we examine the dominate habitat from where they are released in comparison to those who hardly move at all. Instinctively, the birds that seemingly move due to habitat preference are headed north. Very few are heading south even though a lot of the same grains are planted a shorter distance away. As we pay closer attention to their migration tendencies some patterns are beginning to form but with more time the results will become clearer.

In the past four years, while birds have been harvested and reported from all over Texas, it is interesting to note that not one bird has been reported from outside of Texas. Birds are released all over the state including bordering towns around the state lines like Brownsville, Laredo, El Paso, Odessa, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Texarkana and Beaumont. The bands are generic and don’t mention Texas.

The Texas BB Challenge is a season long event from opening day of September 1 to December 31. It is open to anyone hunting dove in Texas with a Texas hunting license. You must be entered prior to harvesting the bird and willing to submit a polygraph if/when asked. There are four different divisions in the contest, the prize division, the Outfitter division, the First Flight high school division and the First Flight youth division.

The research findings based on the data collected from each band turned in are providing more valuable results

Congratulations to the 2021 winners!

20 | SPRING 2022


2021 TEXAS BB CHALLENGE WINNERS

Polaris Ranger:

Diron Holt

Scimitar Horned Oryx Hunt:

Hybrid Sheep Hunt:

Mark Brittain

Ricky Spradley

Donated by RecordBuck Ranch

Donated by G2 Ranch

Donated by Hoffpauir Outdoor Superstore

$500 McKenna Quinn Gift Card:

Gery Keller Donated by McKenna Quinn

Ultimate Dove Hunting Packages (2):

Jose Montes & Justin Sharp Donated items: Chama Chair, Briley Choke, Frio Ice Chest, Custom Bird Bag by Blake Jones Designs, Negrini Gun Case, Bird Down Brand Ultimate Gun Rest, Bucket Pack by Peregrine Field Gear, Dove Cord, Cowboys Wild Game Washer and Dove Hunt at White Wing Fields

2 Vaquero Chairs:

Jacob Calloway Donated by Chama Chair

TDHA Lifetime Membership:

Chambless Game Totes:

Allen Glenn Donated by Chambless Game Totes

TDHA Custom Frio Cedar Ice Chest:

Kenna Arthur

Daryll Gremillion Donated by Blake Jones Designs and Negrini

Donated by Frio

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 21


TEXAS BANDED BIRD CHALLENGE

TDHA Field Pack:

Mike Martin Donated by Peregrine Field Gear, Bird Down Brand and Negrini

Cowboys Wild Game Washer Pack:

Cameron Orear Donated by Cowboys Wild Game Washer

Ultimate Gun Rest and Dove Rack:

Barton McLaughlin, Noe Perez & Fidelio Salinas (not pictured) Donated by Bird Down Brand and Hunter Orange

All winners in the Prize Division also received a Dove Rack Donated by Hunter Orange

Outfitters Division

Trophy trout fishing trip in Baffin Bay:

Early Bird Prize

Browning Maxus shotgun:

Mark Roberts

Brook Owens

of Mark Roberts Dove Hunts Donated by Baffin Bay Rod & Gun Club

Provided by TDHA

Social Media Promo Prize

Bird Bag Belt:

Mike Browning

Donated by Blake Jones Designs

All 61 hunters that reported bands, received a one-year membership to Texas Dove Hunters Association. Each hunter also received a certificate on the band that they had harvested giving details on the study for that particular bird. Each year more birds will be trapped, banded, and released in Texas. Bands do not expire from one year to the next, increasing the odds of winning year after year. Hunters must enter annually in order to be eligible to win. The entry fee is $20. The 2022 Texas BB Challenge entries open on April 1, 2022 and can be purchased online at bandedbirdchallenge. com or by calling the office at 210-764-1189.

Don’t go to the field without your entry in the BB Challenge! 22 | SPRING 2022


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LADIES IN THE FIELD

A BREED APART FROM THE PACK

Amy Sterner Finds Her Niche in Dog Training By Meredith Kay Photography by Jennifer Lugo

G

rowing up in Corpus Christi, Amy Sterner always knew that her path would lead her to a career working with four-legged co-workers. She began working as a volunteer at the Coastal Bend Small Breed Rescue facility when she was seven. She spent her summer days helping out in the kennels while her parents worked. When she turned 13, Amy knew that she wanted to find a job with a veterinary clinic to learn how to treat and care for canines at a deeper level. So, she began a letter-writing campaign to area veterinarians outlining her experience and asking for the opportunity to learn more. She found a veterinarian willing to take her on, and at 15, she was hired by a clinic, cementing her desire to pursue a career working with dogs. Amy attended Texas A&M at Kingsville, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. It was here that she also became interested in hunting and training hunting dogs. She became experienced at duck hunting in the Coastal Bend region and spent a couple of summers in Alaska working with outfitters who specialized in training sled dogs. After graduation, she continued to work for the veterinary clinic until she landed a job training Labradors for hunting. As she continued to learn more about the sport of quail hunting in South Texas, she decided to adopt her first poodle, Birdie. Amy noticed that her dog seemed to pick up the commands and the hunting techniques just by being around the other dogs that were active in training. This sparked her interest in starting her own business specializing in training poodles as hunting dogs. Her business is called Simply Southern Retrievers. Although she trains all dog breeds to be experienced and effective hunting companions, she is unique in that she also promotes training poodles as sporting dogs. During one of her hunting expeditions, she met her husband, Greg Sterner, who also happened to be the brother of her best friend. Amy spent weekends at his ranch in Castroville learning to train hunting dogs for quail hunts. She was immediately smitten and recalls that she didn’t think Greg was very interested in her. Still, she was determined to win his affection.

24 | SPRING 2022


LADIES IN THE FIELD

She says, “In the beginning, he paid more attention to his dogs than he did to me.” They continued to work together for months before Amy boldly confronted him to inquire if he was ever going to ask her out, and they have been together ever since. Today, the couple lives in Castroville with their 2-year-old daughter, Gentry Grace. Amy truly believes in utilizing correct breeding practices, and most of her hunting dogs are rescue dogs. She works with these dogs extensively and trains them to become effective quail hunting team members. When asked what drives her passion, she states, “I love to experience that moment when a dog clicks and gets it during training. There is such a sense of pride that emanates from the dog when he or she locks up on a covey of quail and points perfectly. Then when given the command, to see the dog bump and flush the birds out is so rewarding.” Currently, Amy has six poodles, including her champion mini poodle, Paisley, who holds several hunting titles. Amy tells how she carried Paisley everywhere for her first six months while training the dogs on the ranch and in the field, and then simply through observation, Paisley picked up the hunting techniques and has become one of their best hunters. She laughs when she describes the reactions from the hunters who contract them for hunting expeditions when they see her work. “Nobody expects this tiny poodle to race into the brush and successfully find and flush coveys of quail. They get a kick out of watching her retrieve the fallen birds, beating larger dogs to the punch.” March through November is training season at Simply Southern Retrievers. Along with their rotating pack of hunters in training, Amy and Greg have 40 trained hunting dogs of their own that they take on guided hunts. The dogs live large in air-conditioned kennels, and they take about 15 dogs out at a time on hired quail hunts around South Texas. Amy takes great pride in knowing every dog personally. She says, “We work with each dog very closely, assessing their strengths and their unique personality traits. This allows us to know which dogs work well together in different situations so that we can put together the best team for every hunt.” Quail hunting is a gentleman’s sport, and people will pay handsomely to hire the right outfitter for a three to five-day guided hunt. For Amy, the dogs are everything, and she feels incredibly blessed to wake up every day surrounded by her poodles to do what she loves, which is rescuing, training, and hunting with her dogs. TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 25


TEXAS OUTFITTERS

OUTFITTERS IN TEXAS

NORTH ZONE CENTRAL ZONE SOUTH ZONE

26 | SPRING 2022

Premier Dove Hunting


TEXAS OUTFITTERS

LUBBOCK AREA Rhett Overman, Jeremy Zint & Paden Ferrero 806-224-3003 Final Descent.guides@gmail.com Lodging now available

SANDHILL CRANE • DOVE • DUCK • GOOSE • TEAL

CIRCLE E OUTFITTERS • • • • •

White Winged and Mourning Dove Hunts Located on the Rio Grande River East of Brownsville

Bonnie 956-551-9960 956-838-5222 info@whitewingfields.com

400 acres - black oil sunflowers corn and sorghum 2 lakes surrounded by mesquite trees

Day-Family-Group Dove Hunts 20 miles south of Abilene 10 miles south of Clyde Sunflower, Milo and Wheat Central Zone

RANDY EDWARDS

DEREK EDWARDS

325-370-2185

325-669-0796

Joshua Lane Sandhill Cranes Dove 817-999-3060 jlanebirdhunter@yahoo.com

If you are a

Texas Outfitter

and would like to be included in the Outfitters ad pages in the Fall issue, call 210-764-1189 or email tdhasusan@gmail.com TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 27


CONNOR THIGPEN

It All Started with a Dove Hunt By Meredith Kay Photography by Josh Poole

F

or many Texans, the love of hunting and shooting is passed down from one generation to the next. The first time a young hunter is taken out and taught to shoot is an experience that they will never forget, and for one young South Texas hunter, that first experience has turned into a true passion. Connor Thigpen remembers the day that he and his dad, Matt, went dove hunting with their neighbor, Bobby Schraeder when he was just eight years old. Connor and his family live in Cuero, and they often hunt dove in the area. Connor recalls using a .410 on that first day, and he lights up when he remembers how he felt. He says, He says, “My dad flushed the dove from a tree, and I shot it, and I was hooked from then on.” Continued on page 30

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TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 29


Connor was so enamored with shooting that he became very good at shooting skeet and trap when he practiced with his dad and Bobby. He entered his first 4-H shooting competition when he was just nine years old, and he came in first place. He says, “Winning that first competition was my first big accomplishment, and it was exhilarating.” Connor continues to compete through the National Skeet Shooting Association, and he has won three open championships over the past four years. He competes in skeet, trap, and sporting clays, but his strongest sport is skeet shooting. Recently, he competed in the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Junior Shoot-Out at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, where he took fifth place in Sporting Clays and Modified Trap. Over 275 young shooters were competing in his division, so finishing among the top five is quite an accomplishment. Connor shoots with a Zoli Z-Sport shotgun for competition shooting and switches the barrels to achieve the appropriate gauge needed. He also uses Briley chokes and wears Gustin shooting glasses. The travel required can be difficult, but Connor’s family is committed to helping him pursue his passion. They have plans to do a lot of traveling this year, with Connor competing in Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, and Los Angeles for the Junior National Championship. Last year, Connor won the High Overall Champion in the Junior National Championships in New York, so he’ll have to defend his title this year. Although he loves to shoot, he also loves school and works hard to make straight-A’s in school. Connor enjoys hanging out with his dog, Buster, reading, and watching movies with his family during his free time. He says that his favorite book is The Hunger Games, and his favorite movie is “The Waterboy.” In addition to dove hunting and competing, Connor loves to go deer hunting and fishing with his grandpa on Carancahua Bay near Palacios. You’ll never meet a more polite young man than Connor Thigpen, and he’s definitely one to watch in the shooting sports arena. We may just see him in 2028 or 2032 at the Summer Olympics, representing the USA and the great state of Texas.

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TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 31


6TH ANNUAL HUNT WITH HEART HUNT

T

DHA and Hunt with Heart have developed a wonderful partnership over the past six years. This year we had the opportunity to take two groups of kids on hunts, one in the first season and one in the second season. The kids are amazing and have been through more in their young lives than many of us go through in a lifetime. It’s neat to meet them, hear their stories and to see how well they’re doing now. Each youth brought a family member and was paired with a volunteer from TDHA. The Fall hunt was the most successful hunt we’ve ever had with Hunt with Heart. Everyone went home with a limit. Birds were not as plentiful in the second season hunt and temperatures were cold, but everyone still went home with a few birds. More important, though, the camaraderie was great, everyone had fun and lots of wonderful memories were made in the field. Many thanks to Daniel and Valerie Hernandez and Double H Outfitters for sponsoring the hunts again this year and providing delicious meals.

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Continued on page 34


2021 SIDE X SIDE AWARD RECIPIENT: LEE HOFFPAUIR The Texas Dove Hunters Association’s Side X Side Award is given to people who go above and beyond and come alongside TDHA

PREVIOUS TDHA SIDE X SIDE RECIPIENTS: Tim Garcia • Vence Petrenella • Jeff McMillan

and support them with their time, knowledge and/or resources.

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 33


6TH ANNUAL HUNT WITH HEART

Op

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2022

Texas Banded Bird Challenge

EARLY BIRD entries open on

April 1, 2022 Open to all hunters with a Texas hunting license to harvest a Eurasian Collared Dove with a TDHA band on its leg. Every band reported provides data for the TDHA Eurasian Collared Dove research project. PHOTO BY JAY SCHWISOW

BandedBirdChallenge.com


FAMILIES IN THE FIELD

FAMILIES IN THE FIELD Send your dove hunting photos to:

info@txdove.com

36 | SPRING 2022


FAMILIES IN THE FIELD

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 37


SECURING YOUR FIREARM FOR TRAVEL By Scott Ashton, Vice-President of Sales, Negrini Cases

H

ave a wingshooting trip of a lifetime around the corner? Driving there may be an option but not for out of state travel. There is no faster way to get to your destination than flying, but we may not put convenience on top of our list.

any particular lock, some travelers consider the use of “TSA-Recognized locks” stamped by either Travel Sentry® or Safe Skies® as a preferred method for securing their luggage. These locks specifically allow TSA agents easy access by utilizing master keys.

Is your shotgun case secure and ready for the abuse of airline travel? You need to ask yourself if your case complies with TSA regulations while traveling. When traveling with firearm cases, it is important to check these bags through TSA Security at all domestic airports for hand-checking. According to the TSA website, “The gun case must completely secure the firearm from being accessed.” Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.

While these locks are convenient and are fairly common options for many travelers’ standard luggage, the fact is that these master keys can be purchased via eBay, Amazon and can be made by commonly available 3D printing programs. Because of this issue, Negrini has opted not to offer TSA-Recognized locks on their cases. This further adds security while you fly and fully complies with TSA regulations. Your firearms and high-end fly rod equipment are very valuable, and choosing cases with proven tumbler style TSA compliant locks will give you the best protection possible.

While the TSA does not officially approve or recommend any particular lock or brand of lock for securing your firearm luggage, we found a solution with Negrini brand of cases, their integrated locks are compliant with TSA requirements. Understand that while the TSA does not recommend 38 | SPRING 2022

These locks offer customers added protection with simplicity and security without the fear of losing keys. Choosing cases with either an all-steel Germanmade tumbler style lock or a tumbler style polymer latch lock that allows you to choose your own combination is the way to go. Continued on page 40



GENERAL LOCKS Travelers may leave their checked baggage unlocked or choose to lock it. If you lock your case and it sets off the alarm, TSA officers may have to forcibly open it to complete the screening process. TSA is not liable for missing locks or any damage to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes.

FIREARMS

■ When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments. ■ If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel. ■ Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply. ■ Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5, a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations. You may use any brand or type of lock to secure your firearm case, including TSA-recognized locks. ■ Bringing an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition to the security checkpoint carries the same civil penalty/fine as bringing a loaded firearm to the checkpoint. You may find information on civil penalties at the Civil Enforcement page. ■ Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage. ■ Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only. ■ Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

tsa.gov/travel

40 | SPRING 2022

Ways to protect your case from lock damage is to supply all contact information to reach you while traveling. We recommend a fitted canvas travel cover. The heavy duty canvas covers feature storage pockets for luggage tag information or business card slots for your contact information. Best yet the cover adds exterior protection from scuffs and scratches, a carry handle, and a detachable shoulder strap for hands-free use while traveling. For additional travel tips and information about TSA screening procedures, prohibited and permitted items, please visit .tsa.gov/travel.

AMMUNITION ■ Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage. ■ Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. ■ Small arms ammunition (up to .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge) must be packaged in a fiber (such as cardboard), wood, plastic, or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition and declared to your airline. ■ Ammunition may be transported in the same hard-sided, locked case as a firearm if it has been packed as described above. You cannot use firearm magazines or clips for packing ammunition unless they completely enclose the ammunition. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be boxed or included within a hard-sided, locked case. ■ Please check with your airline for quantity limits for ammunition. tsa.gov/travel


VISIT WWW.TTHA.COM OR CALL 1.877.261.2541


PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD

PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD

42 | SPRING 2022

Send your dove hunting photos to:

info@txdove.com


PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 43


ARGENTINA

MORE THAN JUST A DOVE HUNT By Geoff Emery Photography by Julio Aguilo

I

had one request for my bird boy as he led me to the field edge that first afternoon in Córdoba, Argentina, “Barto, let me know when I hit 15 doves”. After all, this is the legal limit back home in Virginia, and it can take all afternoon to reach it there. I wanted to time how long it would take me here, in the dove hunting capital of the world. Barto handed me a loaded Benelli and told me it was time to rock-n-roll. Dove were everywhere, and almost immediately, my shots were off and I was having difficulty connecting. I wondered if I would even shoot 15 by the end of the day. After what seemed like forever, Barto FINALLY told me that I had reached 15. I was shocked to learn it had taken only 6 minutes and 45 seconds! All I could think was, “wait until the guys back home hear about this!” My father and grandfather introduced me to the joys of wing shooting as a child. I was hooked and could not get enough. Even if I was not hunting, my mind was always in the field (still is). There was a collection of books and magazines on the bookshelves in our living room. I would sit there for hours reading every word and waiting for Opening Day. It was here that I first read an article about dove shooting in Argentina. I was in disbelief

44 | SPRING 2022

of the stories of doves filling the sky, and I resolved to see it for myself one day. While this trip had always been at the back of my mind, it took over 40 years to get there. Clay Williamson, an old Army buddy, and I contacted Pablo Aguilo with Pointer Outfitters. We booked our trip and were bound for Argentina. We took a two-day Buenos Aires layover en route, then arrived in Cordoba Province for the longawaited hunt. I had dreamt about this hunt for 40


years. I had been to all the websites and watched all the YouTube videos, but I was sure it would never live up to my expectations. Not only did it live up to my expectations, it far exceeded them. The doves filled the sky. The stories were true. I was in a field and everywhere I looked were doves. We took the time to learn these birds that first afternoon and we felt confident. On the second day of the hunt, Clay and I decided to go for the 1,000 birds in a day challenge. The bird boys took us to our spots. My first spot was mediocre for Argentine standards. After 90 minutes, I only had 90 doves—time to move locations. The crew on the ground had a more productive alternate spot already prepared for me. Two hours later, when it was time for lunch, I had reached 875 birds, and Clay had his 1,000. It wasn’t long after lunch that I had my 1,000. Exhausted, we headed back to the lodge. With the goal of 1,000 birds in a day met, the only thing left to do was shoot a Cinco, five birds in five shots. I had already shot dozens of doubles and triples the previous day. Since plugs are not utilized while hunting dove in Argentina, this goal was possible. At the end of our third and final day, I accomplished the Cinco. And not only that, Clay and I combined to shoot over 6000 doves in three days. It is hard to imagine, but there is more to this experience than just hunting. I have been on hunts throughout North America, where the meals and lodging make or break the trip. In Argentina the food is just as unbelievably good as the hunting. On hunt days, our lunch was served in traditional Asado style in the field. Pork, chicken, dove, and steak are all cooked on an open flame in front of you as you breathe in the delicious aroma. After lunch, hammocks are hung for a siesta should you desire, and then it is back to the hunt. When you have finished for the day, you head back to the incredible lodge, where you are met with a cold

drink and hors d’ oeuvres. There is time to clean up, and then you are seated for a chef-prepared dinner that rivals 5-star restaurants with plenty of Malbec wine and all the Fernet you could desire. The days end relaxing by the fire before you head to your room and dream of dove. Argentina is famous for its dove hunting, but do yourself a favor and combine your trip with other pursuits and activities. The duck and perdiz hunting (similar to quail) are fantastic in that region. Or, if you love fishing, you can chase trout in Patagonia or fly fish for the mighty Golden Dorado. Hunters and non-hunters will enjoy Buenos Aires, a Mendoza wine tour, or even a ski trip to Patagonia. I will jump on a plane and go to Argentina any chance that I get. My only regret is that it took me over 40 years to get there. TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 45


TDHA STORE • SHOPTDHA.COM

TEXAS DOVE HUNTERS ASSOCIATION STORE Order Texas Dove Hunters Merchandise at:

Solar Shirt Made of 100% polyester breathable material with SPF 50+ UV protection and moisture-managing interlock fabric. Available in khaki or olive. $24.99

shopTDHA.com

Richardson 112 Cap Leather Badge with Texas Dove Hunters logo. Available in Khaki/Olive, Black, Charcoal/Pink, Black/Charcoal $24.99

Heavy Blend Hoodie $39.99

26 oz. Water Bottle $17.99

12 oz. Slim Can Beverage Hugger 6 Pack $11.99

shopTDHA.com 46 | SPRING 2022


WILD ABOUT DOVE RECIPE

DOVE FIELD DATES Holly Holly Hearn Game Girl Gourmet

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

DOVE MARINADE

1 Salt and pepper dove breasts both sides. Grate onion into a bowl and mix with 1 tbsp of sumac, cider vinegar, and olive oil set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.

12 dove breasts cut in half ½ white onion grated 1 tbsp sumac ¼ cup Apple cider vinegar ¼ cup olive oil Salt and pepper

FOR THE DATES 4 ounces of Goat cheese 1 tsp sumac 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp garlic 1 tsp cumin 1 package of pitted dates

2 Bring goat cheese to room temp, with a hand mixer whip garlic, sumac, coriander, and cumin into the goat cheese until well combined. 3 Open dates up exposing the empty center, with a spoon place a small amount of goat cheese and one half of the dove breast, fold the date back together and wrap with half a piece of prosciutto. Do this until you are out of dates or doves. 4 With a pastry or basting brush, brush the dates with a light coating of peach preserves. 5 Smoke for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees until prosciutto is crisp. Alternatively place dates on a sheet tray under your broiler on high until prosciutto is crisp on all sides (watch very closely, the preserves have a tendency to burn). 6 Top with lemon zest and sprinkle of red pepper infused salt and serve.

Prosciutto Peach preserves

TexasDoveHuntersMagazine.com | 47


NON-PROFIT

TRINITY OAKS By Britt Longoria Trinity Oaks was founded on the premise that active participation in the outdoors is a powerful, healing, and fundamentally life-changing experience. Their mission is to use hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities to give back and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Since 2007, Trinity Oaks has impacted tens of thousands of people who otherwise would not have been able to afford the experience of the outdoors. All the programs are free of charge for participants thanks to the generous support of donors and sponsors. On an annual basis, Trinity Oaks offers more than 100 events for more than 2,000+ youth and families, 1,500+ military veterans who can benefit from once-in-a-lifetime hunting or fishing experiences.

HEROES Trinity Oaks dedicates their Heroes Celebrations to serving and sharing Meet Trinity Oaks Dream Trip recipient, Austin B. He is a 15-year-old their appreciation for the brave men from Florida that had always dreamed of traveling to Texas and hunting and women who protect our Amerwhitetail deer. ican way of life. Through adaptive methods veterans can move beyond their disabilities to learn a new skill or experience a hobby they never imaged they’d be able to enjoy again. The outdoor program for Heroes focuses on combat veterans of all generations and first responders.

HUNTS WITH CHILDREN The Trinity Oaks Youth programs give amazing outdoor experiences to underprivileged children, teaching them vital skills and how to properly handle and respect firearms while learning about the outdoors and participating in fun activities. Through Texas Dream Trips, outdoor experiences are created for children fighting life threatening illnesses and their families. These dream trips sometimes give the children the drive to to fight just a bit harder and hopefully beat the illness.

MEAT MISSION Through their Meat Mission, Trinity Oaks makes a huge impact on the community by processing and distributing over 100,000 pounds of game meat for homeless shelters and food pantries throughout Texas as well as sending dried or smoked meats overseas for our troops. The Trinity Oaks volunteers and donors are the reason they are able to do what they do. To learn more about how to become involved or support Trinity Oaks, go to trinityoaks.org. 48 | SPRING 2022


Membership hats are back!

JOIN or RENEW TODAY online at texasdovehunters.com or call 210-764-1189


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832-851-5806 Gamegirlgourmet Game Girl Gourmet, LLC

50 | SPRING 2022


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