Sunday, September 2, 2007

9.01.07 Randolph County Dove Hunt

For some folks Labor Day means a long weekend, beach trips or cookouts. Where I come from Labor Day is synonymous with dove hunting. If weather permits, farmers have been cutting their fields and the doves have been getting fat on gleaning grain that the combines have either missed or spilled. The hunt begins much earlier than twelve noon on opening day. Dedicated dove hunters spend much time, tire tread and fuel riding the roads, scouting prospective fields and seeking access to prime fields. Time is also spent patterning shotguns, busting clay pigeons and securing other wingshooting necessities.
In times past I would have been afield before noon, swatting mosquitoes and burning up in the midday sun. As I've gotten older (and hopefully more wise) I now wait until later in the day, when the weather's a little cooler and the doves are actually flying better.
Mark P., Mark W. and Bailey showed up at my house at quarter till 3. I'd spent an hour getting my stuff together, shells, ear plugs, walkie talkies, bottled waters, snacks, etc., so when they arrived I was ready to load up and hit the road.
By 4 we were sitting in a cut corn field. Awaiting the arrival of our quary. It didn't take long for doves to show up. The cooler temps and the overcast skies had the doves moving pretty good. Of course there were may delays in the action and no huge flocks poured into the field however, there were plenty of doves.

In fact, opportunities abounded. Doves where coming into the field at a steady pace. Great news for the doves, my shooting was rusty. Although I'd shot clays a week or so earlier it took a while to adjust timing and lead in order to connect with each evasive target. 10-15 mph winds weren't making things any easier. By the time I knocked the cobwebs loose it was sunset and the hunt was over. My vest carried a rather paltry take of three doves and my companions had not fared any better.. As we we loading up the truck two pairs of doves flew within 10 yards of four unarmed hunters. Of course they mave have been safe even if our guns had been loaded...

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