Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hope vs Reality

Our dove season is divided into three decidedly unequal segments.  The first season begins the Saturday before Labor Day and runs through the first week or so of October.  These are the salad days, the afternoons when you stock the freezer for the off-season.  It's not unusual to bag three or four limits, which last year was increased to 15 birds, and have a couple of  5 or 7 bird days to boot.  Birds fly in big numbers with reckless abandon, not yet wise to the fate that awaits if they insist on getting into the field to eat.  Even a shooter having a bad day can end up having a pretty good day.

The second season opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving and closes the Saturday after.  That first Saturday is the closest to a sure thing I've ever seen.  It's a barnburner, in the field by 7:15am, out with a limit by 7:45, and we walk back to the trucks giddy every year.  One week later you might as well stay in bed.

The third season opens a few days before Christmas and closes, for good this time, around mid-January.  Call this one a potluck dinner - you might fill your plate and bask in your good fortune or you might go home hungry in spite of acres of possibility.  I've had both feast and famine during the third season and I guess I'm an optimist because I always approach it with hope. 

We had a tough third season this year in spite of all the pieces being in place.  Our corn field was crackerjack, plenty of food on the ground and plenty still standing, a regular cornucopia.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  And the birds were there, problem was someone had tipped them off that we were coming and they were on the lookout.  It's hard to give dove credit for being smart during the first season when they'll practically fly right down your barrel, but these birds got themselves an education somewhere between October and January.  They were skittish two weeks ago, cautious to the point that most of them passed on dinner a week later, and Friday morning, the last day of the season, they were just plain gone.  Probably having coffee at Rachel's Cafe down the road amid high-fives for making it through another season alive.

I guess shooting a limit on the last day of the season is sorta like hitting a hole-in-one.  Once you've done it, you know it's possible so you keep thinking you can make it happen again.  The left side of your brain knows the odds are highly against it, yet you persist.  One thing you can bank on: I'll be out there on the last day of the season again next year, 8 iron in hand.


  1. Mark, just wanted to let you know I've enjoyed reading your blog so far.

    Our dove season runs Sept. 1 through October 31 and some of my better hunts have been in that forgotten second month...

  2. Thanks Chad, likewise. When you hit it right later in the season, it's better than finding $20 in the pocket when you put your pants on.

  3. Mark... I linked your new site to my list of blogs # Living with Bird Dogs. You've made a good start...