S’s First Dove Hunt

Posted September 16th, 2011 by Wade


now, S has been hunting before.  she killed a doe last year and sat with me a couple times in the blind the year before.  we also went after a turkey a couple times last spring, but “easter family obligations” got in the way of our hunts.  on that one, I could see the little hunter in her coming out when I’d say ‘ok, gotta head back to the house’ and she’d look at me like ‘seriously?  I just got a new shotgun and you’re telling me I cant sit here and try to use it?’

anyways, I’ve been hearing about dove season for months from S.  she’s was excited.  for about 2 months leading up to season, she was on me about her gear.  “I need camo!”  which was true.  so mid august we loaded the whole crew and went to cabelas.  figured that would be the best shot at kid camo.  well, not really.  IF they had kid sized camo, they were putting the hot weather gear away already (really?  this is Texas.  its short sleeves till December)  and basically no girly kid gear.  which is fine, but like she safari or whatever for the big girls should make a line for the little ones.  how hard is it?  so get her a shell vest thats uh…..the right size for her to grow in to (when she’s 12) and a pink trimmed camo ball cap.  cant remember who.  mossy oak or someone.  no tshirts that’ll work.  wind up later at academy finding gear.  J decides she’s going to give hunting a shot (get it?) too.  so she needs gear.  couple tshirts for the girls, L not happy she’s not getting any (which does kinda suck for her) and we’re set.  more/less.

I’d previously gunned S at easter.  yes, my easter present to my daughter was a shotgun.  mossberg pump 20ga.  “super bantam”.  I went with the 20 over the traditional 410 thinking that yeah, it’ll kick her around a little more, but more lead in the air (with a little more oomph behind it) will make for a better chance at putting a bird down.  and now S likes to tell people, and I quote “yeah, it kicks like a mule”.  atta girl!  a key ingredient to hunting BS is to have the lingo down.  she’s got it.  anyways, the super bantam is the shortest commercial shotgun made.  18″ barrel (cant get smaller without making it a registered short barreled shotgun) and a series of spacers in the stock such that you can get the LOP (length of pull) down very short.  its still a little nose-heavy, but aint a thing in the world that can be done about that without registering with BATFE.  she can hold it up pretty good.  enough to get a shot off and that’s about it.  swinging on flying dove is still a little challenging, but we’re off to the races anyways.  when picking the gun up at mcbrides, I asked my buddy B if they had any reduced power shells, etc.  I know they have some in 12 for a variety of things, but was unsure about 20.  he said yeah and took me to the boxes.  they were almost 3x of a normal box of shells so I choked.  but only moderately.  B didnt have to pat me on the back or anything.  asked him, “jeez dude, these worth the price”.  what I meant was more along the lines of did they still have some power without the kick.  B in his ever dry style replies “well, if you care about your daughter you’ll buy them”.  wow.  aggressive sales tactics!

so opening weekend was really for the boys.  birds.  lots of them.  “hammered them” I said a number of times (please note this term for future reference/posts).  following weekend was a family trip.  whole family.  matriarch missing some high brow afair thing to see her granddaughter whack her first bird.  rest of the fam going, because its a) a trip to the ranch b) a good excuse to drink beer with each other and c) get some gravel in our travel (in a VW….meh….at least its not a freaking prius)

so get to the ranch and most everyone gears to hunt.  including J, B, and J.  crap.  this whole “only using intials thing” just hit a snag.  we’ll go with “lil J” till I figure a better way out.  anyhoo, head to the spot where we’ll hunt.  get the girls on their guns and shoot a few plastic bottles.  we’re really green, so we recycle our targets….  (that, and picking up shot up beer cans sucks).  J, B, and lil J go sit together.  S and I are sitting together.  M is floating around supervising while A and R post up by the fence.  birds are coming in some and we’re seeing a little flying action.  at one point I holler over to the girls, who are cackling unusually loud since they have earplugs in and cant hear themselves, “yall even have that shotgun loaded?”  “no….why?”  figures.  resume corona light.  towards dusk a few birds start settling on the tank dam.  S takes a few shots but doesnt put anything down.  pretty sure she scored at least one hit, but the little 20 just didnt bag’em.  one shot does take S all the way down to her tailend due to shooting in an awkward position.  no worries.  part of the game, girl!  end the first hunt with a few birds, none for S, the big girls getting lost in their own back pasture (really?) and big smiles.  S sat the whole time attentive and eager.  pretty tough to beat.

next day S wants to hunt more.  so we go down and try to get our stalk on.  for an hour or more.  she’s a trooper as its hot as hell and she has to be super quiet.  trying to teach her to be aware of her footsteps, watch the tree for the bird, watch the trail for a rock/branch/snake/etc, and all the goes with that.  keep putting her on birds in trees but she just doesnt see them.  I keep reminding myself I’ve been looking at birds in trees for 30 years and know what the little suckers look like.  she…..has not.  finally get a shot at one and its a miss.  oh well.  good outting though.  hopefully learned a few things about sneaking and carrying a shotgun around in the brush.

that evening, just S and I go hunting.  crank up the mojo and set ourselves under a tree.  I pick a few birds off that were taunting us, but not landing.  finally a bird lands.  S takes her shot.  obvious hit, but the damn thing flies off.  I knocked down a bird out of spite.  little while passes and another bird lands.  S takes her shot (all shots now are prefaced by ‘hold me so I dont fall’)  bam!  solid hit.  bird flutters off a ways.  pretty sure we high fived.  honestly, I dont remember I was in the clouds.  see the bird on the ground wandering around, clearly wounded.  tell S “gotta go get it quick”.  keep in mind that TX is now a desert with nothing growing on the ground, so finding birds hasnt been overly hard.  so we go get our sneak on, to the bird.  I’m watching it and see it getting twitchy.  “2 more steps and you’re going to take another shot”.  1 more step and the freakin bird flew off.  I’m stunned for half a second, then crank all 3 shells off after the bird in a minor fit of rage.  nothing.  go back to our seats.  not long after, a few birds land on the other side of the tank.  S sees them and lines up.  takes her shot, BAM!  that was money!  bird is down for sure.  there’s a shot at another bird, but S wants to go get her’s.  smart.  smarter than me.  bird in the hand, two in the bush and all that.  get to the bird and its not dead so I grab it and make it quick like you do.  S grabs it and we proceed to congratulate her.  me telling her how proud I am, what a great shot and all that.  S proceeds to tell me how proud she is of herself, what a great shot it was and all that….  at that moment, I cant tell you what I was feeling.  bird in the bag.  bigtime.  S’s first bird in the bag.  HUGE  that one little bird felt better than my whole pile of birds the weekend prior.  or the whole last season.  I dunno.  her first bird was probably my best bird.

so of course, I’ve had to drill the shell and put on a necklace for her.  same as I “had” to do with the shell from her doe.  she’s worn it to school every day this week.  she’s a little proud I think.  she has no idea how proud I am.

you know what the best part of the hunts were?  those few hours we had by ourselves.  just the two of us.  no tv.  no ipod.  no nothing.  sound of nature around us.  serious talks about serious stuff (hunting.  school.  stuff.)  in those precious few hours, memories were burned into both of us.  ones I know I’ll never lose.  ones I hope she doesnt either.

that makes you come together, like wild horses when they run, now the cards are on my table, and bullets in the gun

Toby Keith – Bullets in the Gun

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