This year's Dove season came like most others. A few early morning scouting trips, and like the past few years, not a lot of hope. I saw no birds at my places close to home. Places were in years past we've done really well. The last three years have been terrible though. By terrible I mean that I haven't even shot a bird on opening day. In fact the last three seasons I haven't killed more than two birds all season long.
Thursday morning found the Old Man and I at our usual back up spot, down by the river, along the railroad tracks. Right after shoot time a pair came right by me!! I got one, and watched it fall. My shots spooked a group of around seven more, and I got one of those as well. Two birds down and the season's only been open for five minutes, I'll take it! We didn't see anymore birds for over an hour so we moved downstream a little ways. We saw a few birds but we were limited as to how soon we could see them, and didn't get any shots off. After about three pairs flying by unexpectedly I finally saw one coming before it was too late. I took the shot, and down it went. My first Eurasian Dove. I was stoked!
We decided to move to another spot with a few trees, and more open sky. I'm glad we did. When we arrived I saw a dove on a wire, I walked toward it, and it flew towards me. One more in the bag. When I shot about twenty birds took off and landed in two trees. The Old Man walked towards one, and I walked towards the other. We would shoot at a dove taking off, miss, and it would fly back to the tree. Unbelievably! After a few misses I took my time and got two. We hung out under the trees for awhile and got a couple more. A great opener in comparison to the last few.
Thursday evening we went back to the same spot, but this time the Boy got to come along. This was his first year shooting a shotgun, and he was able to give doves a try. When we got to the spot there was a dove sitting in the tree, and I let him shoot it sitting still. No problem...first dove ever in the bag. I told him no more sitting shots, so he had to get 'em in the air. I didn't shoot much that evening giving him the first shot opportunity. He ended up getting two more for a total of three. Not bad for his first real hunt!
Saturday morning we went to the same spot with another first time hunter, my friend Ken. Things started out pretty slowly, and then all hell broke loose. Group after group of doves came down from the rocks, and into the field. It was absolutely unbelievable. I've been hunting doves for at least twenty five years, and have never seen anything like it. I dropped one dove, and killed five more on my way to pick it up!!! Once things slowed down a little we went back to the truck to count our birds. I was shocked to see that I had fourteen! Just one shy of my limit. I ran back down towards the river, and got one more! My first fifteen bird limit, and it was only 8am!!!!
We had another hunt on Sunday with a few birds each, Ken and his son went out another day, and got skunked. Looks like it's about over this year. I'll take a few random hunts close to home, but it's time to start thinking about ducks, chukar, and rabbits.
The Boy's first.
My first fifteen bird limit!
Hank Shaw's "Grilled Dove La Mancha"