The ACU Wildlife Society and Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (AES) held the fifth annual dove hunt Sept. 16 and 17.
Open to the local community and the ACU community, licensed hunters gathered at the Rhoden Field Laboratory at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 6:00 a.m. on Saturday to hunt doves native to West Texas.
The hunters in attendance ranged from ACU alumni to local Abilene hunters. Hunters were allowed to take all of the acquired game home with them.
Rhoden Field Laboratory farm manager Riley Morrow helped coordinate the event, taught students how to clean a dove and grilled the dove breasts he shot.
“To make it fair for the hunters, they draw a number out of a hat, one number per group, and then they get to pick where they are on the field,” Morrow said. “As far as hunting, we’ve had zero [students] hunting, however, volunteering, we have around seven. This is student-run; they prepare all the meals and get everything ready for the hunters.”
A relatively new event for the AES department, the dove hunt has a purpose larger than scanning the sky for mourning doves, white-winged doves and the invasive Eurasian collared-doves.
One of the event’s founders, associate professor of environmental science and chair of the AES department Jim Carpenter, said the new event also doubles as a fundraiser.
“The main goal of the hunt is to raise enough money so that all of our Wildlife Society students who want to go to the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society meeting can go,” Carpenter said.
At the annual Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society meeting, AES students can present research and network in their respective area of study. All of the money raised at the dove hunt goes directly towards paying for the students’ registration, hotel rooms and meals. Last year, the ACU Wildlife Society presented research about campus windows and their impact on birds.
Providing these types of opportunities to Wildlife Society members is especially important to president of the Wildlife Society and senior biology major from Abilene Gracie Granados.
“The goal of the Wildlife Society is to get students experience in wildlife and kind of just raising awareness of wildlife management and conservation,” Granados said. “A lot of our students are from the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences department, but we welcome anybody like biology majors, chemistry majors, and criminal justice majors.”
Hunting also ties into the educational aspect of the Wildlife Society’s mission for its members including Ian Massey, a sophomore environmental science major from Benbrook.
“Most of the funding that preservation and wildlife management receive is from hunting licenses and taxes on guns and different hunting supplies,” Massey said. “In a way we are helping manage the populations, and then also, part of it is education. The more people are aware of the birds and the populations, they might care more about them.”
Dove hunting is one of the many educational opportunities offered at the Rhoden Field Laboratory. Here, students have over 400 acres of land, managed by Morrow, to learn from.
“If there’s ever a student that wants to do research paired with a faculty member, we are 100% open to that,” Morrow said. “If there’s other departments and such that would be interested in something, we would definitely be open to that. Because that’s our goal, is to educate.”
To learn more about ACU’s Wildlife Society, follow @acuwildlifesociety on Instagram.