I started dove hunting just two years ago and it has quickly become my favorite prey. Furthermore, I have had the privilege of hunting with some of the best wingshooters around.
Some of us only shoot doves in full flight, not those coming into a roost, to feed or (what I fondly call AT&T doves) those landing or sitting on power lines.
When shooting doves, imagine instead you are shooting bats. Doves have a tendency to dart about like bats, especially after the first few days of the season. When it comes to dove shooting one person in particular really sticks out in my mind. He is a modest fellow, so to protect the innocence I will call him “Jim.”
One afternoon several of us got together to do a little dove hunting at a local farm. Jim and I shared a small blind and did a lot of talking. I’ll never forget the day. While never missing a word of conversation, Jim took 10 shots and dropped 10 birds. I was up to my normal accuracy rating of 10 doves for 20, 30 or 40 shots? Who Counts Anyway???
I was very impressed with Jim’s marksmanship in the field, but I wasn’t going to make any judgement of his real expertise from just one hunt. After all, we all have good days. Even me every once in a while! I’ve had days where I’ve got 10 doves with barely over a box of (25) shells, which is fantastic for me.
We were talking about hunting (what else) while we were on our way home that evening. I told Jim how I had only been hunting doves for two years, and how it had become my favorite hunting sport. After hearing of my love of the sport, he gracefully invited me to join the group for another hunt Saturday morning.
Saturday morning came, Jim and I were back in a blind together again. Sipping hot coffee, passing jokes back and forth, talking, me shooting and Jim (once again) dropping doves like nobody’s business. Much to my amazement he had again taken 10 birds with only 10 shots. An hour into the hunt and he had his limit and I had 2 birds (for 8 shots). One hour (and at least another 25 shots) later, I finally finished out my daily limit of 10 doves.
I could resist it no longer, I had to ask him how he got to be such a good shot and if he evermissed. He got real quiet and thought for a few seconds, then politely told me it had been quite a while since he had to take more than 10 shots to get his 10 dove limit. Reaching down and flipping his pockets inside out, he told me that he only carries 10 shells into the field with him. He wasn’t rubbing it in, or lording it over anyone. He simply felt he could take all the birds he needed or deserved with 10 shots.
I asked him how he had become so proficient at dove shooting. He explained that being semi-retired and living on the farm, he had ample time and opportunity to go hunting. Which he does 2, 3 often 4 times a week.
In a way I count myself lucky… I’m happy that I’m not that good of a shot. Not that I enjoy shooting poorly, but I’d quickly become bored and seek out another sport which was a challenge to me. The biggest suspense of the hunt is wondering if that dove is going to fall after I get on it and pull the trigger.
I can hold my own against most when hunting ducks, quail, pheasant, rabbit etc. But, when I pull up and swing on one of those little grey-winged missiles, it is a different story. When I turn on a dove, it is less than even money that the bird will fall when I pull the trigger. I’m just proficient enough not to get too embarrassed.
At times I am also very concerned about the future of the sports I so dearly love. With the efforts of the animal rights activists we really have to keep up our guards, present a positive image and weed out those of us that do not care.