Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Glorious 11th

As the first season wears on, turnout at the hunts drops to predictably low levels and Saturday wasn't the first time I had the field to myself on the closing day. My ancestors had their Glorious 12th of September, opening day in the isles, and this year I had my Glorious 11th, the last chance at shooting dove for the next five weeks, not knowing exactly what the day would hold but knowing I'd kick myself if I didn't at least show up.

It's been a lackluster season up to this point, the resident doves having moved on shortly after opening day leaving us to scratch out a living on scant gypsy populations. Week before last we killed a grand total of two birds in the whole field, so optimism is not exactly abundant this time of year. Most of the guys I shoot with opted for the Clemson game and several others were out of town or just had better things to do. Perish the thought.

dead sunflower
The field is spent
Experience teaches that you'd better bring along something to do when the birds aren't around so I packed the camera, figuring I could at least count on some leaves and dead sunflowers and stuff. When I walked into the field a dozen or so birds got up, which means one of two things will happen:

  1. the birds scatter and never come back and you don't see another bird all day (9 out of 10 times)
  2. this is an omen that there are still birds in the area and maybe, just possibly, this could turn out to be a decent afternoon (1 in 10)
So you settle in, snap a few pics and see what happens..

chairs and grills
Leftover from opening day

changing leaves
Sign of the times

Dead dove hidden in the grass
Sometimes they're hard to find

Dead dove on the ground
Sometimes they're not so hard

dove with a trail of feathers
Sometimes they leave a trail...

A dozen birds in the bag, a few photos, one fire ant bite and everything a fall afternoon has for the taking. While it wasn't perfect - 85 degrees and far more gnats than birds - it handily beat all expectations, reminding me why I show up against the wisdom of the crowd. And why I'll do it again.

doves on a tailgate
The take


  1. I'd go for 12 birds every time. Three fields that I hunt have a 12 bird limit notwithstanding the 15 bird statewide limit. It probably helps in the long run as we generally have 3-4 good shoots out of our club field with the 12 bird limit. You gotta figure for every limit killed, there's a percentage that are shot that manage to wing it out only to keel over once they land in a tree a quarter mile or more away.

    1. That's a fact. I've watched birds fly to a tree at the edge of the field, wondering how in the hell I missed them, only to hear a thump 15 mins later when they fall out and hit the ground.

  2. Always bet against the wisdom of the crowd...

    It was boom or bust for us this year. Either covered up in birds or nothing at all. I've had some fine and blissfully solitary hunts in late September and early October, long after conventional wisdom says dove season is all but over. Unfortunately, this year conventional wisdom was right. Hate it when that happens.