September 25, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

You know you are a bad shot when you are forced to quit dove hunting, not because you have met your 12-bird limit, but because you have fired every last shell in your arsenal. But I see the glass as half full, not half empty and I must say that I was very pleased to have such a target-rich environment on opening day, September 1, in which to blast away nearly three boxes of shells.

Of course the day did not start out as optimistically as I am. My partners insisted that since we were hunting mourning doves, we needed to be there in the morning. Apparently these werenít crack of dawn doves, because at first light there was no sign of any birds despite the fact we were sitting amid the 10+ acres of sunflowers planted on the conservation ground on Highway 15. As a matter of fact we saw twice as many hunters as we did doves so it was an easy decision to get up and try another spot.

After our second little nature walk to and from our spot, again without seeing any birds, I was beginning to feel like I was quail hunting, lots of walking and no shooting. But I gave into the peer pressure and moved on to spot number three. I was thinking of all kinds of excuses to have to leave, especially after I learned it was a half mile walk into our next ďhot spotĒ but I went along not wishing my hunting buddies to think I was wimping out. (I heard all their terrible remarks about our fourth man who never bothered getting out of bed to meet us that morning and did not want any of that.)

Itís safe to say that I was happy they forced me to come along on our final little jaunt as we quickly found some late mourning doves in another patch of sunflowers at a now secret spot. Now the action wasnít as fast and furious as some dove hunts Iíve been on, but after such a drastic weather shift in the days before the season opener I was happy to see the groups of two, three and four doves flying our way every few minutes. Iíd say we saw a bunch of birds, but when you stop and think that the three of us combined to shoot well over 100 rounds and only bagged 19 birds, that we could have been shooting at the same ones over and over again.

I was the main culprit. I broke my golden rule early on and I lived to regret it. I couldnít help letting out a laugh after my neighbor fired off three rounds at close range and never drew a feather. Thatís not something you want to do before youíve even fired a shot because I must say my marksmanship performance was by far much more laughable. The only thing that saved me from being pelted with harsh remarks was the fact that I was holding onto the bulk of the remaining shells that my partners so needed to continue the fun.

Regardless of the outcome I was pleased to have had the opportunity. I guess if I was any better a shot my day would have been cut way short as I know that I fired more than a dozen times there in the first 15 minutes or so. If Iíd been a true aim on all of those I would have been in and out of the woods way too quickly. Then again, after getting up at 5:00 a.m. and trouncing around in the brush all day that wouldnít have been all bad either as maybe I could have caught a nap and still got some work done at home. Oh well at least next time Iíll know to pack a little heavier in the ammunition department.

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