Mourning doves: the first upland birds of hunting season
Through a series of very fortunate events, I’ve gained permission to dove hunt a property near my house in the north metro. Better yet, the farm always has a few doves around that are usually willing to fly low enough for a shot. This was apparent when my buddy, Austin, and I walked down a two-track road last night toward our spot.
At least two dozen birds sat silhouetted against the sky on the powerlines. Eventually a couple took flight, and finally the entire flock. We quickly placed a few decoys and set up in the standing corn. Foxtail, full of little black seeds, rattled as we walked through the corn. This is always a good sign because doves love foxtail, but they also had water and gravel in the spot.
After settling in we spotted a loner flying low in our direction, and when he sliced through the air I let fly with two shots. My Lab’s head nearly exploded from the excitement, but all I hit was the air beyond his tail. Luna, who was seriously considering breaking as bad as she ever has, crawled back into her position next to my seat.
It seems as if the first shot of the year is always a whiff. Even the first two, if you’re a stickler for details. While my misses didn’t help create a future meal of grilled dove poppers, they did flush birds and get them circling.
The second dove didn’t fare so well as Austin and I shot simultaneously, and the bird tipped beak first into the yellowing corn. After that I was lucky enough to scratch out two more birds before we moved. The action died, except for one lone mourning dove that flew in low and landed in the foxtail. Austin crept up with Luna at his side, and when that bird flushed he didn’t stand a chance.
Four birds is pretty good by our standards, and we left the field content. It’s always a nice feeling to shake the jitters of the first bird hunt for man and dog, and we accomplished that last night. We also devised plans to tackle the first sunrise hunt we can. It might be this weekend, it might be next week, but it’ll happen soon.
And it should be awesome.