Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When a sure thing isn't

It happened and I'm finally at a point where I can bear to talk about it.  Laws of nature and physics and statistics dictate that it wouldn't go on forever, the last fifteen or more years notwithstanding.  What I'm referring to is the annual Saturday before Thanksgiving dove hunt.  You see, for whatever reason or reasons this particular hunt has always been the closest thing to a done deal in terms of being a barnburner.  I've walked out of the field in twenty minutes with a limit.  Most years it takes between thirty and forty five, but still...

Almost always a cold morning, the dew frozen on the grass so that your feet don't get wet walking in but might on the way out.  Watching your breath slip from your face it's like duck hunting, waiting for legal shooting time as the light replaces the dark, except you aren't standing in cold water up to your waist.  The birds have had more than a month of rest and peaceful dinners since the first season closed and they're drifting in to what they think is a sure thing.  And they drift in and cruise in and dart in and rocket in and keep coming in like bargain hunters overrunning a Wal-Mart on Black Friday.  At one point last year I shot a bird, shot another on the way to pick the first one up, shot another while I was still looking for the first one, and shot a fourth before I finally got to the first one.

Word started catching on a few years ago that this hunt was a hot one.  The day of the twenty minute limit only four of us cared enough to get out of bed.  By the time we finished we were giddy, punch drunk on success and good fortune and laughing just as hard at the suckers who stayed home.  Lately more and more guys have been showing up cloaked in anticipation.

This year the birds just weren't there.  High man in the field might have killed eight when the few that were around quit flying.  My bag was loaded down with exactly one bird.  I don't know why I felt so dejected.  Beyond mere disappointment, I actually felt let down, and with no legitimate reason.  It's not like I'd been offered a guarantee somewhere along the way.  There's only one explanation: somewhere along the way I'd been.......spoiled.

I suppose some UCLA basketball fans were disappointed in 1974 when they didn't win the NCAA championship.  Too much good fortune and you start to expect it and then it's only a matter of time until good fortune becomes entitlement.  And entitlements are rarely appreciated.  Shame on me.


  1. I have this one spot where I can always catch a small Brown Trout; it may be the same one. It's a small plunge pool that's everything but a sure thing. Except the one time it wasn't. I felt that same way. It was as if I did something wrong.

  2. Boy, the banded dove are sure starting to have an impact on morning dove migration in our neck of the woods. I spoke to the head bird biologist for the State of Colorado a while back about the influence these birds were having on morning doves. He tells me that within 20 years of so, these birds will push out the morning dove, that we'll eventually end of like Argentina! That's sad, but then again you can shoot them all year long and they're bigger and tastier than morning doves. Personally speaking I'm doing all I can to keep their numbers under control. I shot one the other day while rooting around for a Rooster my dog misplaced.

  3. Near as I can tell, Steve, the only thing you may have done wrong was catch that brown the first twenty or thirty times. As painful as the letdown is, it does serve to remind us of just how good we had it.

    And speaking of good, ending up with Argentina-like numbers of dove isn't necessarily a bad thing is it? I'm a bit envious, Gary, since the banded dove haven't made it to my part of the country (in any noticeable quantities) yet. Our state has no limit on them but I've yet to meet anyone who's shot one. That's an invasion I'll look forward to, though.

  4. Every morning that I go turkey hunting, I know I am going to kill a bird and it usually doesn't happen. If I got up in the morning with the feeling that I didn't have a chance, it would be time to quit. Hope is the thing with feathers and so is a turkey.