It starts off with the transmission in the truck slipping the week before opener. Don't know if it's the trans filter that has never been changer in the 100,00 of the 190,000 miles I have put on it or just the trans saying goodbye, but that will not keep me from dove opener. We then move to Thursday night where I have dinner with a friend who is as easy on the eyes as she is fun to be around that ends around 1am, only to get up at 4:30am for work and leave straight after at 5:00pm in the holiday traffic, ugh. Drop the nephew and dad off and pay for three nights of a motel at 8pm and haul butt to make it to our phenomenal opening day party. Beer, bar-b-cues, birds and babes. This has absolutely ruined every opening day for anything else I hunt for life. It will never be as good as dove opener! My hunting partner and I proceed to enjoy ourselves until about 3am when we head back to go get the nephew. Pops was feeling a little sick still so he waited until later to come out with us. We finally get to our spot, cots out and ready to sleep at 4am, or so we thought. Finally told the kid to shut the HeXX up at4:37am . Then the alarm goes off at 5:30am . Yep, 53 minutes total sleep. Great. Thank God for adrenaline! Luckily we were not disappointed, there were dove everywhere! But as you can imagine, 53 minutes of sleep did not help our shooting. I drop my first one right out of the gate and went pure downhill from there. Even the kid who is usually death with a shotgun was off. Whew, that made me feel a little better. After an hour of, for lack of better words, sucking, I decided to shake things up a bit. I handed the kid his grandpa's Winchester (sorry Frank) 1200 12ga while I snuck some of my 1-1/2oz loads out to the field. Oh yeah, much better! They told me the it got a little cooler every time I shot because the 1-1/2 oz lead cloud would block the sun temporarily . I told them I didn't notice, because unlike them, I was picking up my dead birds.
Well, those worked for about an hour or so until the birds got wise to the couple of hundred people around this spot. I then was coherent enough to shoot a smaller (but MUCH faster) 1-1/8oz rounds and really reach out beyond anyone around us. In a 30" full choke barrel at 1600fps, 50 and 60 yard shots were easy! The guys next to us accused me of using 00 buck. It was that amazing. Here is the part you want to hear Frank. Even though it sounded like a war movie going on, apparently this dang coyote decided it was a good idea to stroll out to the canal by which we were shooting and take a look! Why, I don't know, but he did. Well, some idiot decided it was a good idea to shoot it with bird shot at some 40 yards . It was not! And I was not happy! It jumped into the canal to get away and started swimming right by us. The
We decided to leave shortly after that to have lunch, get the decoy we forgot to buy earlier, and pick up my dad. We hunted a different field that night and had a great time with just the four of us; myself, my dad, my nephew, and my best friend/hunting partner. This is what (dove) hunting is all about. Birds are just a bonus at that point.
Sunday was slower morning, but still productive. The best part was seeing this, my dad and nephew out there together having a great time and both smiling from ear to ear. This made the whole effort worth it all.
And as you can see, we put a decoy at the edge of the water and waited for them to fly in. I can not say this enough: I will never hunt dove without a decoy again in my life!!! Not only would the birds land right there on you, they would also see it while flying in a completely different direction a few hundred yards away and change course and come straight into it. Yes, they work that good!
The next picture is special for two reasons. One, it was the kid's first Eurasian dove. Two, it was taken with one of his great grandpa's shotguns! He would have loved to see this picture. It is an old 70's vintage Mossberg 500. You can not put price tags on moments like these. The other picture is to show some who have asked how easy it is to tell the difference between mourning and Eurasian dove. Notice the much grayer color and lack of black spots on the Eurasian dove?
And while Sunday morning was fun, Sunday night had to be the most fun evening of the trip (except for the adult themed opener party). The bids would not quit flying in, and I just sat next to a brush pile near the decoy with my buddy and caught up and shot dove. I wish moments like that would never end. I could do that all day every day with him and never get tired of it. I am truly blessed to have a friend and hunting partner like him. But the real star of the night was the kid. He discovered that he could not only shoot his other great grandpa's shotgun, but he could shoot it well! It is an ancient Winchester (sorry again) 1400 12ga auto, and it shoots like a dream. This is the picture right after he took a double with three shots and while he was headed ou to pick both of them up, he had to hurry to cram another round in and take a third bird with the fourth shot. He was on fire. Three birds, four shots, total of maybe 20 seconds. And he has only been shooting a shotgun for less than a year and a half. You can't see it, but my chest is sticking W A Y out. Also, he looks wet because we had to have him swim in the reservoir for one of our birds.
Monday was a slow day, and we were all extremely tired, so we managed a few birds and headed home early content with the weekend we had. We are not greedy, and decided to leave on a good note and get home in time to unpack in the daylight.
The following weekend was pretty much the same except it was just my buddy, his girlfriend's son, and myself. I left work at noon, transmission still slipping and all, on Saturday and drove straight up there foe the evening hunt and all day Sunday until I left for home at 9pm. We did just as well and had a blast, but I did not get any pictures of that weekend,
One of the things we learned on opening day (well "they" learned, I already knew) was about shotgun ammo. I have been offering to let my dad and my buddy use my reloads that they refer to as "ballistic missiles" for quite some time. My dad is way old school and always reminds me that he has been knocking down birds with what I call anemic factory ammo for years. After watching his first three birds lose feathers and fly away with the 1-1/8oz Remington "Field Loads" (1290fps) I made it a point to walk by him so he could break down and ask for some reloads. I didn't give him too hard a time. I handed him some tamer rounds at about 1500fps only to watch him completely miss his next four shots. As soon as I started to speak, he yells "Yeah, I know, don't lead them". You got it. He didn't lead them and they fell like bricks out of the sky. He was so pleased that he actually told me to give his factory stuff to the next truck that drove by if they wanted it! All that stuff you "read" about speed ruining your pattern, and not making much difference in leading birds, I am sorry to say is pure crap. It may sound great in theory, but the real world has proved it to be totally wrong. I even left some hulls for my buddy to load at speeds, and after one night like this with them, he swears also to use nothing less than 1500fps and #7 shot.
That's all for now. Sorry it was so long. Next up, quail/chukar!!!
P.S. Please excuse any spelling errors. I am usually retentive about it, bit just too tired to shive a git right now.