More than the reappearance of school buses on the roads, it's the dove opener that signals summer's passing in the Deep South, which is perhaps why dove shoots--big, communal events with dozens of hunters scattered throughout a field--have so long been paired with celebrations, barbecues, grand revels. In northern climes, the hunting of mourning doves--which some consider songbirds--is a controversy-scarred topic. (Last year, after much political rancor, Minnesota opened its first dove season since 1946.) In the South, however, dove hunting is a venerable tradition, older than bourbon and as beloved as college football. Dove hunting offers challenging pass-shooting, it's true, but here it's about much more than that: kids, wives, dogs, camaraderie, post-hunt cocktails, grilled dove breasts and pork barbecue, old custom, and the changing of the seasons.