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Ammo… ammo…and more ammo for doves!

Bill Adelman author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com

Article and photos by Bill Adelman
09/05/15 -- At what point does the smile on the faces of Remington and Winchester turn to a very broad and satisfying grin? Am guessing about a week or so prior to dove season. Word on the street indicates that more shotgun shells will expire on this one day than any other time during the year. Should you be watching many of us on opening day of dove season, you just might concur. A whole lot of hunters are great shots, however the majority of us, oh well. But I don’t mind that. Shooting is fun in itself, however it leaves so many questions unanswered. As a for instance, just a few minutes after legal shooting time, a single dove zooms by at 20 yards, barely visible, and there’s but a mini second when you’re not even sure it is a dove. Don’t stand, just take the shot from right to left very quickly while still seated on your bucket. Dead bird. Mark it and quickly walk towards the drop zone for retrieval. Found it.

A home mad T bar is perfect for field dekes. Photo by Bill Adelman
A home-made T bar is perfect for field dekes.
hunter with rifle sitting in chair, photo by Bill Adelman
My son, Steve, scanning for both of us.
View of hunting grounds, photo by Bill Adelman
The view from our stands

Just as you sit down and inject a single 20 gauge shell, another zips in, quartering from left to right. Same circumstance, same result. Wow, 2 for 2 in but 3 minutes. The next opportunity is a clean miss, but so what, 2 for 3 ain’t bad for me. Then reality sets in. A tad later my son tags one and when in retrieval mode, spots a singleton approaching from the left, so he hollers and I’m so ready as I can see it coming from 40 yards. This extremely lucky bird quarters towards me, and at about 18 yards should have been a dead bird. As I was picking up my 3 empty casings, it just didn’t compute that each attempt was a clean miss. OK, so now it’s 2 for 6, but who’s counting? I am. Now my normal shooting abilities are coming to the fore. Things did improve a bit, and my day ended with 6 doves out of 18 shots. One good meal was in the bag. My son, who has always been a much better shotgunner than I, ended his day with 11 birds.

Man kneeling near birds hunted, photo by Bill Adelman
Steve with our birds

Let’s digress a bit. My son and I hunt but one day each year for doves. We’ve gotten into paying an access fee, generally between $150 - $200 each for the hunt. This year we had a hunt scheduled outside of Woodland, where each of the 37 hunters was given their own section for the morning shoot. This was a good option for us, except that our field just wasn’t quite in the flight area. Yes, we did move, but it just wasn’t consistent. We still had a great time. At about 9 a.m. my son’s cell rang and it was the guys we hunted with last season. That hunt was extremely slow as the birds were few & far between. We chose to not go back. Those same guys took 2 other hunters this year, same spot and were cleaning 60 doves by 8.30 that morning, and birds were still everywhere. Wouldn’t that be wonderful to be able to pass shoot almost non-stop until you limit out? And, we were checked by a warden this hunt. He parked on the road and walked in, checked our guns, licenses and birds. This was good. By the way, you do need a HIP card to hunt doves. Whew, we had ours.

One more digression. An invitation to hunt an olive orchard came my way back in 1960. A friend loaned me a 16 gauge side by side, which meant nothing as I had never fired a shotgun. Even scarier, I didn’t even know what a dove looked like. Problem solved. All I did was observe until it became sorta clear what I was supposed to shoot. As Ron kept yelling, “you’re not leading them enough” nary a clue on my part. Later on as I recalled the morning, it occurred to me that at some point down the line, somewhere in the Midwest, an eager olive consumer might bite into a size 7 ½ lead pellet. There’s nothing I would take in place of my 65 years of hunting and fishing experiences. Nothing!

Bill Adelman is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California. His work has appeared in the Fish Sniffer newspaper and MarketPlace magazine. He was a full time freshwater fishing guide for 20 years. Now retired he still likes to serve as a flyfishing instructor, rod builder, outdoor photographer and hunting mentor.

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mountain lion on rocky edge, photo courtesy of UDWR and Carrie Wilson, CA DFW
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