The first time out is preceded by an optimism like no other.
I figured since this was only the second morning of the season and I've seen a lot of dove all over the place that I would have fast and furious action for a while. As I drove to my spot, I scared up a good number of dove that were feeding in the road. In fact, within 10 minutes of legal shooting time, I had my first shot at a dove crossing from right to left. I missed, but the familiar adrenalin rush was back and thoughts of a freezer full of dove breast began to coalesce in my mind. I was sure that this is the year I get to try out my vacuum sealer to keep a couple examples of that wonderful dark meat dove breast in good condition for my sister's visit in November.
We'll, that was at 6:40am and a lot changed from that point. I sat and scoured the skies for flights of doves for several hours this morning. I took four shots in total, all misses. All of the doves I shot at were singles flying right to left. I saw several more flights, most out of range and one pair that snuck up on me. By the time I saw them, my chance to shoot was gone.
However, there were a number of shotgun blasts all around me. Clearly, there were doves flying - just not so much in my area. Although I was well concealed, the recently harvested field I was hunting over must not have provided enough food and the trees to my back must not have been roosting spots.
Even without a ton of action and with no success, I still love being out in the field. I enjoyed the orange sun as it rose through a clearing in the trees to my back. As I sat there, I thought of what being outdoors means to me. After a long hot summer, being outside before the sun came up was a wonderful change. In fact, it was a little cool this morning. There was a breeze which made the temperature perfect. It was so refreshing - sort of like an ice cold glass of bottled water. The tap is good, but not nearly as much as a glass from the bottle (at least here in Dallas). Being outside was like that. It IS like that. Especially after being cooped up all summer.
Maybe that's why I love dove hunting so much - or all hunting. I am outside, not in a centrally air conditioned house or outside sweating my you-know-whats-off, but outside drinking in the fresh air, the sounds of nature and connecting with the earth, and with God. When hunting alone, I can spend much of my time in prayer conversing with the Almighty. When not alone (usually with Dylan), dove hunting affords an opportunity to talk - as silence isn't nearly as important as concealment.
So, although I got skunked today, it was great to be out. I don't know if I will have a lot of success this year, but it won't be for lack of trying.
And, as I departed the hunting area, I passed a field of milo that hasn't been harvested yet. I know where my next hunting spot is going to be.
It would seem that my optimism remains.