September excitement and the odd patterns of Doves
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Want to know what I learned about myself when I went Dove hunting? I tend to over-complicate everything. Yep, I'm a classic over-thinker. And I just make things so much more complex than entirely necessary.
Picture this, me and Walter meeting my dad to go dove hunting on our family friends' property after work. I quickly change into full on camo layers, then look around and notice everyone is in jeans and a camo t-shirt... insert another quick-change so I'll match the group. Then comes the duffle bag of ammo, an extra layer, water for me, water for Walter, snacks, chuck cord, leash, extra collar (I don't know why), sunglasses, gloves, and sunscreen. Then I grab my gun, and my portable chair, and start to walk towards my spot in the field. Then I realize I forgot to put on Walter's e-collar, and have to start all over again.
Fast forward thirty minutes and I'm sitting in some taller grass, tangled around my chair with the chuck cord, the leash, and my duffle bag, and I am literally getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Walter was not okay with sitting still - he wanted to go sniff out birds like we had been training to do - this was a new hunting concept for him and he really wasn't a fan. If I'm being honest, neither was I!
I hike over to my dad's spot in the field and explain that I'm starting to swell up due to the number of mosquito bites I had endured. Thankfully the dude had some extra bug wipes for me to use. That saved me for a bit longer. I march back to my chair and scan the skies. Where were those damn little birds?!
The night before, on dove opener, my family all banged out limits of birds. They said they came in in giant swarms. They said it was exciting, it was fun, and the mosquitos weren't that bad. I babysat my nieces and nephews so my brother and sister-in-law could hunt the opener, and one evening later it seemed everything had completely changed. A little down the field a couple doves came through, too far out of range. A solo dove came over the trees and I missed. Another pair came in between the trees and I took one dawn. Finally! But of course, my dog was not paying attention and didn't see where it fell, so I retrieved the first bird of the season. Classic. We saw maybe two or three more birds after that and then the sun was down.
Not the exciting start to the season I had anticipated. Note to self - less is more. AND, never be without mosquito repellant! I have over 30 bites from that escapade, and I was covered in calamine lotion for a week!
Doves are unpredictable. Your best bet is to smash them on the opener. Otherwise, you pretty much have to be there every evening for a week or two in order to get lucky. My uncle did just that -- went consistently for ten days and had a few solid evenings where he limited out, then the rest of the time it was quiet and sparse. I think the best part of Dove season is the fact that it is the beginning of the hunting season in general... go time... camo time... bird dog time!