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Dove Opener Smackdown

Dove hunting tornado in the Texas North Zone. That is the way it was described by a few of our hunters on opening morning. Scouting the fields for birds on Thursday evening was like driving through a cloud of dove size mosquitoes. Thousands of the little grey grill-mates lit out of the two to three foot tall sunflower field that was going to be our primary hunting grounds for opening morning. Another scouting trip on Friday evening did not produce the same awe inspiring clouds of birds but did yield some of the largest and most consistent flights that we had seen. All were coming to water in the evening. The field consisted of 18 acres of sunflowers mowed in strips. The strips were recently disked to make them even more appealing to the birds. Along the lower edge of the field was a 45 acre lake that acted like a wildlife magnet. The scene was definitely set for a great opener for the 2007 season.

At 5:30 a.m., our group set up on a mesquite tree lined fence row at the top of the field facing due east and looking straight at the water. After organizing the bucket seat, the shell bag and the decoys, we waited for the first few rays of sunlight to break over the field behind us. The first few shots came from a field that was adjacent to ours and set off the chain reaction that was nothing less than spectacular. As the first shots echoed in the distance, groups of birds came blasting over the tree tops from behind us at mach 2 or better. The action was no less than some of the best we have seen in years. Most of us spent the first 30 minutes adjusting our shooting to the speed of the birds and the aerobatic maneuvers that they were showing off.

 

If you like to pound out your limit within a few minutes, this was the place to be. If you are like me and need to tune in your shooting for a bit there were plenty of opportunities. The birds kept us very busy. Before I knew it, I had around four boxes of empty shells laying around me and still had less than my limit. By the time we were getting serious about attempting to limit out each member of the group, the sun broke through the overcast sky and the flow of birds slowed to a trickle. The thrill of the hunt began to be replaced by a sore shoulder and the grumbling of my stomach. We settled on calling it a morning with a final count that put us 10 birds shy of our combined bag limits. Not bad for the first morning.

We skipped the evening hunt and decided on a feast to feed the five of us. We had grilled dove wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a sliver of jalapeno pepper. Since everything always tastes better when it is cooked in the outdoors, we ate until we were beyond full. We turned in relatively early in preparation for the next morning.

We started out the next morning with Mojo dove decoys and scattering of static decoys on the ground to simulate a group of feeding birds. This did exactly what we expected. The decoys pulled birds in from long distances and had those actually landing in the middle of the decoy spread. It was definitely proof that even gun-shy birds will respond to a simple decoy setup. Needless to say, the action was not as quick as the previous morning but we did do very well. We stayed a day longer and scouted more fields for our return trips throughout the season. We definitely liked what we saw so far of the hunting in the Graham, Throckmorton and Olney areas of Texas.

Check back soon as the pictures are still coming in from the hunt.

  


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