I'm going to try to put into words how I feel about the opening day of dove season.
I can remember my first one like it was yesterday. My Dad got invited to the "320." 320 acres just south of Cottonwood Creek. We arrived before dawn with about seven or eight other men. We all spread out around a meadow, ringed by oak trees. It was still dark when I got set up. I wondered if I would get any doves, I wondered if I would be able to tell the difference between doves and jay birds. I didn't have to wait long. Just after shoot time my Dad hollered "coming right at ya!" The dove tried to land in the tree I was standing under. I made the easy shot, and I was hooked for life.
For the next two hours or so it sounded like World War 3. The older guys lined up along the old fence that the birds all flew down, My Dad and I at the end. Everyone yelling "coming from the north," or "down the fence." It was the first time hunting that no one told me to "be quiet," "sit down," or "hold still." It was great. We all walked around, yelled, picked up each others birds, and had a great time. After about two hours some of the guys had their limits, and the birds really slowed down. We went back to the trucks for some serious bullshitting. It reminded me of when Billy Coleman got to stand around his Grandpa's store, and tell his own hunting stories. I was still treated like a kid, but at least I was included.
I have hunted every dove opener since, most of them with Dad. That was over twenty years ago. My wife, daughter, and son have come with us as well. My daughter decided she didn't want to hunt at about the time she was old enough to. My son can't wait to get big enough to shoot a shotgun. That's what's great about dove hunting. Anyone can go, the kids run around, everyone misses constantly, and everyone has a blast.
It is more to me than just opening day. It is more to me than a signal that fall is coming, along with ducks, rabbits, and deer seasons. It is all of those things, as well as a time for friends and family to meet, and enjoy the outdoors.
I hope I never miss one.