When hurricanes still loom in the tropics and hummingbirds begin to arrive in the flowers, you know it’s dove season in South Texas. Situated along the banks of the Rio Grande in Brownsville, TX, there is a family farm which offers some of the best dove hunting this side of Mexico called White Wing Fields.
As a young boy, John Dunaway’s father took him on his first dove hunt to these very fields on Loop Farms. Accompanied by friends and family, John’s dad would have several of them join every year for this opener. As John got older and began establishing his own ring of hunting buddies, the new invitations to the same tradition began. Fast forward a few years with a little more organization and you have the foundation for the First Annual Paloma Blanco Shootout.
Mark, the founder of Ball and Buck was amongst the invitees for this event so he quickly rallied the media team at Ball and Buck and after a few flight changes and delays, we landed at Brownsville International Airport eager to participate in the 2018 Paloma Blanco Shootout. We took the short drive to South Padre Island where the group rented a beach condo for the weeekend and awaited the wagon train headed down from Houston. With hunting not starting until noon on Saturday, the night ahead was primed for a good start.
With beds selected, we headed to a local Mexican restaurant to meet up with Travis, Chris, John, Kansas, Gunnison, Dan and Morgan. All of these guys have an entrepreneurial or creative edge to them as you can see in the video, making for a very entertaining experience. Travis is the owner of Manready Mercantile in Houston Texas, Chris is the in house photographer for Manready. Kansas is the engineer and founder of Packmule and Gunnison is his son. Dan is in finance and Morgan is the owner of a few restaurants, one of which we visited later on in the trip called Revival Market. After dinner it was time to share some beverages and tell stories. With Morgan’s own Ivy Mountain Distillery Corn Whiskey and some Twisted X Brewing beers sent down from Dripping Springs, the stories went well into the morning.
The next morning it was time to wake up and start cooking breakfast. The booze train kept running through the night and we hopped back on it early in the morning. We were drinking John’s own Jolly Roger Bloody Marys’ which was the lifesaver we all needed. Recharged and fed, it was time to head out to White Wing Fields for day one of the Paloma Blanco Shootout. We loaded up the trucks, and began our day.
Once the day was over, we cleaned the doves, with Gunnison watching very closely, and made our way back to our condo for yet another night of good food, drinks, and good times. Morgan fired up the charcoal grill and threw on his locally raised 44 Farms steak while we shared stories about past hunts, planned future hunts, and checked out the pictures we took a few hours before. With the dinner bell ringing, we polished off the meal with little struggle and rolled right into the early morning yet again.
Day two hit us pretty hard. We were all very tired from the day before, but that didn’t stop us from gearing up and heading out to the fields for another day of hunting. We made a stop at the local meat market “La Casa De Tortilla” where we picked up some authentic barbacoa, fresh hot tortillas, and chicharrons.
We got to the Field and no sooner than arriving, it began to rain. After about an hour of a rain delay, the hunt began, but then something very special happened, the mariachi band showed up. Have you ever been to south Texas, dove hunting along the Rio Grande with a Mariachi band playing? If not, we highly recommend the experience.
The thing about dove hunting is that its a very inclusive and social event. Far from the solitude of a big game hung, this is far more than a hunt, it’s a tradition to be shared amongst friends and family. It didn’t take long before we were on a first name basis with our neighboring hunters, owners of the farm, and yes, the mariachi band members. The band members even got a turn firing their first shotgun into the field after the basic gun safety intro. Needless to say, they were far less intimidated by the weapons and more respectful of them after embracing it first hand.
Drenched in sweat and struggling to acknowledge the end, we cleaned our limits of birds before departing the field for the last time this season. We’d have one more great meal amongst friends both old and new that evening before loading up the next morning for our drives back to Houston and beyond. The Paloma Blanco Shootout was far more than a hunt, it was the branching of a tradition to appreciate the outdoors and camaraderie, one we strongly look forward to attending next year.
Follow the crew on social media (from left to right) @mbbollman @morgan_f_weber @abstractconformity @danplate @tsweaverco @civilwar_supermodel @nixon_lt (off screen @pakmulegear)