Friday, September 28, 2012

Strangers in a strange land

Opening day of dove season is different.  People show up in droves, bring friends, kids, preachers and some guy who called them out of the blue because he was visiting his mom at the lake and heard we might be shooting (mind if I join you?).  College boys appear between the trees like those baseball players from the corn in Field of Dreams. There's a cookout, beer, good to see you again and by the way, what have you been up to?  Everyone goes home grinning.

Dead doveThen starts the great decline. The crowds get thinner every week regardless of whether there are birds.  The only exception is that if you have a really hot shoot and go home and call everyone who wasn't there and rub it in, the next weekend the field will be packed with your boys and the birds will have packed up and headed south.  You shoulda been here last week...

This year the decline has held true to form.  Fewer and fewer hunters each week while bird numbers have been pretty steady.  You'd think this would be good for the few of us remaining, but as anyone who's hunted dove knows the birds get substantially smarter once the first shot is fired.  They have an uncanny ability to divert flight paths through the parts of the field where the guns aren't.  Which means you generally need enough guys around a field to plug the gaps and keep the birds moving, and if you're lucky there are a few guys who fidget and walk around and cause the birds to flare and fly toward you, the stealth hunter sitting motionless in the shadows, agent of death from below.

Last weekend Bob - one of the hard-cores - and I showed up.  Way down on the other end of the field was a guy I knew but had never seen in the dove field and he brought along a friend visiting from Israel.  And that was it.  Just the four of us.  And some birds.

So Bob and I rimmed a corner within earshot of each other, sipped a few beers and drew on the occasional kamikaze.  Mostly we watched the birds drift right through the big open spaces in middle.  When we left, the Israeli was still at the far end of the field, alone, and might still be there for all I know.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dove hunting is....

.....altogether different when you're four years old.

Kid in the candy aisle
the bribe

Kid stuffing dove feathers in a hat

Dove feathers in a hat
...courtesy of a patient friend

Son holding a dead dove
wanted to know if he could sleep with it

There are far too many days when I wish I were a kid again.