I mentioned going Dove hunting in a previous post, and now that it has been completed, I feel compelled to blog about it - especially because I've thought of little since and am trying to figure out how I can go again soon.
We arrived and Angie's aunt and uncle's house in Bonham a little before three on Sunday afternoon. After messing around for a while, Dylan, her uncle Maurice, and I decided to jump in his pickup and drive to the back of the 70 acre property that he lives on. As we drove past a large pond, he pointed to two grey birds flying across, and said "There they are!" At that point, I started to get jazzed. As we continued to survey the property, we saw three white tailed deer flee from us. That was really neat. We came back around the pool, parked under a big tree, and got out. It was a beautiful afternoon, not too hot, and the sun's rays would peak through the trees and reflect off the large pond. I got the impression that hunting is more about the company you are with and enjoying the great outdoors. It's a good thing, too, because we didn't see another dove for over an hour.
At the end of that time, Maurice suggested we drive over to his other property, where he has 40 acres and 25 head of cattle. I thought that was a great suggestion, and we left. Along the way, we saw many doves enjoying themselves on the power lines, so we started getting excited again.
We arrived at the property and Maurice introduced Dylan and I to each of the cows, calves, and bull as we drove around. We headed off to one of the ponds he has on that property, and immediately saw a dove fly in front of the truck, and perch on a nearby tree. I got out quickly and proceeded to load my shotgun, but took too long and the dove flew away. We saw another, but that one also flew away before I could get a shot.
As Dylan and I walked around, another flew left to right in front of me. It was a perfect shot, and emptied my gun (three shots, by law), but missed all three. It is possible that the bird was out of range, as the distance seemed a little far - but no matter, at least I got a clean shot.
We sat for a while longer, and since we didn't see any more we decided to depart. Dylan and I sat in the bed as we drove from one side of the property to the other. When the truck stopped, so Maurice could lock the gate, Dylan and I got into the cab. Then we saw it - two doves perched right in front of us, about 25 yards away...one was looking RIGHT AT ME! I loaded my gun and chambered a shell, got out quietly, and closed the door over.
My heart was beating so hard, and the adrenaline was coursing through my body so fast, that I couldn't line up the shot. The sight on my gun just seemed be moving and I couldn't steady it on the bird to the left. I was sure that they were going to get spooked and fly away. Eventually, I lined up the shot and pulled the trigger. After an explosion of feathers, the next thing I remember is Dylan jumping out of the truck saying, "Did you get them?" I don't remember pumping the shotgun, or shooting at the second as it flew away, but I did, as there were two doves lying on the ground under where they were perched.
The experience clearly satisfied a primal, visceral response in me, but I'd like to think that it just wasn't wanton killing. You'd think that the birds never had a chance, but hey, look at the score. Also, we've decided that anything bagged is getting eaten. After we returned to the house and had dinner we cleaned the birds. Heck, I didn't even want to touch them, so plucking the chest feathers and trying to pop their little breast meat out was difficult. Angie's uncle did the first to show me how, and then finished the second when I broke the breast bone.
Right now, I have two little dove breasts in the freezer - they are not large. We're going to grill them with jalapeno and bacon as soon as we can. And, perhaps, we'll bag some more before the season ends so we can make an entire meal. I'm already looking forward to duck season.