Dove Opener

 In Dove

he alarm stung like a carpenter bee boring into my head. 3:00am. Three and a half hours of sleep. Early bird gets the worm…or something like that. I was out the door by 3:17 with a day old donut and some coffee that wasn’t quite up to my standard. I hit Nate’s house by 3:29. Right on time. The excitement was palpable. This was my first Dove Opener on public land and I’d heard all the stories. “Make sure you bring eye protection.” “Keep your head down – watch for falling shot.” “Make sure you keep it above a 45. No need killing anybody.” We arrive at 4:15 with just over 2 hours til shooting light. No wonder. There were a dozen guys in the parking lot, another couple dozen, we’d find out as we made are way into the field, had already found their spots lining the recently level cornflower field. After we selected our bunkers, we stood around catching up and commiserating about seasons gone by until just after six. 6:18 came and went with nary a bird. After ten or fifteen minutes, I began wondering why I had bothered with this fool’s errand. That’s when the flood started. Singles and pairs at first. Then a crack. A boom. A volley. Silhouettes plummeting. Not many at first, but more with time.


he birds flying and falling increased with the rising sun. Our line was good. At some point we stopped sitting down between salvos. Our spot was good, and they were coming right over the top of us. Our neighbors thought so too and gradually worked in from the edges, wading deeper into the corn and losing more and more cripples in the process. Despite the indiscretion, we were by no means starved for birds. The air fair, fairer than you’d expect for the beginning of September, and peppered with calls, shots and an ever present hail of “JACKIE! JACKIE, HERE!” Soon enough she appeared. A beautiful, if not poorly trained dog, standing sentinel at my feet. Watching for what? Neither of us had any idea.


e each pounded through a couple boxes of shells and headed out to the truck by 8:30 or so. A dozen birds for Nate, 10 for Clint, and 10 for me with one lost to a lanky teen who walked into the crossfire of the recently shorn field to claim it as his own. “Oh…is that yours?” “I thought I shot it, but no worries!” I knew I shot it, but what’s better: coming home with 11 birds or coming home with 10 and potentially making a kid’s day? That kid could be hunting for the first time and that bird might be the one thing that sets the hook in the lip of a future outdoorsman or maybe he was just a greedy hombre who went home with a limit… haha. I guess the point is immaterial to me. We hit the road and were home by 10:30. First hunt of the season in the books.

Date Birds Downed Birds Retrieved Yield Weather Temperature Miles Traveled Total Time Yield/Time Location Ownership Total Cost Yield/Cost
9/1/18 11 10 12.96oz Clear 73 76.4 5:59:00 hrs 2.22oz/1 hr Polk County Public $22.28 1 oz/ $1.72
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