September 1st marks opening day of Dove season for most places across the country, so let us analyze this pleasant creature of field and sky, shall we?
The Morning Dove and its western cousin the White-winged Dove is a docile individual that gives pretty calls during the day, accompanies other mild mannered birds to our backyard feeders and in general is an agreeable sort.
But this gentle creature has a hidden Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde complex. What has been all summer an enjoyable outdoor companion suddenly changes identities come September 1st! Summer friend has turned into an absolute friend!
The Dove has now changed and transformed we hunters also into cursing, shell wasting, gun blaming, deplorable degenerates not fit for proper society.
Our ability to to shoot effectively has been somewhat diminished to that of a beginner. We have elevated heart rates, squint excessively into the sun, fumble shells, lead too much or more often fire six feet behind these little gray rockets.
The shotgun we shouldered and swung at imaginary birds all summer in the gun room feels all wrong. The safety button has magically moved to parts unknown, the front bead is no longer sharp and crisp but is blurred in our sweat filled vision. We aim right, the bird goes left. Next pass we knowingly pull left but now the gray ghost is no longer there for he has jinxed up or down.
The few times we actually connect, the bird, though dead, still manages to power dive into either a briar patch or a swamp. You now will have to pull a full scale expedition to recover said bird. You of course either hunt without a dog or loyal retriever gives you the “I’m not wasting my time going in THERE for 4oz. of shot filled meat and feathers!
From 25 straight at the trap club to 25 shells per dove, so goes opening day in a sunflower field. At the gun club you have your peers to impress and you shoot superbly, while sitting on a bucket the first Saturday in September, with no witnesses closer than a hundred yards to the next shooter, you do horribly. If you are lucky enough to have a canine companion, the dog has either fallen asleep from boredom or due to inaction on your part.
Upon arriving home sweat covered, muddy and bug bitten, you may only have three or four birds to show for the day’s outing but you will have a sore shoulder and a gun box full of empty hulls.
Enjoy this first season of the year, and remember if you didn’t do your best, the Doves did! ~ Wade Pennell

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