Cory’s First Dove Hunt

 In Dove
I

awoke with a start. 5:00am. That can’t be right! I checked my messages – 3:58am: Leaving now. 4:23am: I’m here. Where is you? 4:33am: Heading home. Call me if you are awake. This is was not at all what I had in mind for the start of the day. By 5:06am I had my pants on, holding my phone sandwiched between head and shoulder, I rang Cory as buttoned my shirt one-handedly. “Hello?” “Aw man! I’m so sorry! This never happens. You still down?” I had slept through my alarm and 3 missed calls. “…yeah… I just got home and took off my pants…I’ll be over in 20.” We made a quick stop at the golden arches for something resembling coffee and breakfast before getting on the road by 5:40am.

W

e pulled into the gravel drive of the Aldrich Boat Ramp parking lot just after shooting light, gathered our gear and headed to the field. Initially, we plopped down under a set of power lines that transect the rows of crops planted specifically to attract and harbor doves. The hunters that, we quickly found out, were a couple hundred yards across the field, also under the lines, waved us off our intended nest. I thought their claim was a bit generous for public land, but we had come to hunt, not bicker – ometimes you have to ask yourself “is it worth it?” – it wasn’t.

T

he birds started flying late and only traveled in ones and twos when they did, but came steady throughout the morning. Cory managed to put down two: 1 in flight and 1 stationary, perched on a ragweed bush. I walked away empty handed despite sending 13 cartridges of number 7 steel shot into the air. I thought I put one bird down, but when I went to retrieve it he revealed his cruel charade by flying away unharmed. Some days your the pigeon, some days your the statue. Some days you limit out by 8:00am. Somedays you wake up an hour and a half late, drive 40 miles, shoot a half box of shells, and walk back to the truck empty handed. Fortunately for me, birds in the hand is not the rubric by which I grade the success of a hunt. How do you grade stories swapped between friends? How do you quantify the pleasure of watching the young sun paint the sky red and orange before cooling off and fading to blue?

Date Birds Downed Birds Retrieved Yield Weather Temperature Miles Traveled Total Time Yield/Time Location Ownership Total Cost Yield/Cost
9/7/18 0 0 0oz Overcast 72 67.2 4:51:00 hrs n/a Polk County Public $17.73 n/a
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