The first fall season, that for doves, closed on September 30. Booker and I stole a bit of time on recent Sunday afternoon and got the heck out of town on a last minute hunt. It was really more of a scout than a hunt, as we went out to check a little corner of public land which looked like it might work for doves on paper, but which I'd never visited. Getting a late start, we left the house at four and were out of the truck a bit after five, ready for the evening shoot.
There was water, some trees for roosting, and about a hundred acres of pigweed, sunflowers, and other assorted dove foods in the area. Most of the sunflowers and such were chest high, though, which isn't a favorite for doves. After a bit, I saw a dove wing along next to a tall cottonwood, soon to be followed by five more in a loose bunch. We made our way down there and, sure enough, it turned out to be something of a flyway. There weren't very many birds and we were late, but we managed to scratch out a couple. We spent some time walking out in the sunflowers to see if we'd put any up and came across a big covey of blue quail. I'm not sure the dog had ever seen a quail flush before, as when they started buzzing up in his face he stopped, looking around in apparent surprise that birds would act that way and could be so loud. At least, that's what I projected from his behavior and my own recollection of my response to my first covey rise. Nonetheless, Booker's reaction resulted in a perfect reaction to a flush and I praised him heavily, hoping to encourage more such behavior.
Walking back to the truck we encountered another covey of blues. I saw them cross the road so, when we got to the right spot I sent the dog in and he flushed again in good form. I broke open my gun, not having seen a dove in a while, and thereby managed to miss the dusk flight of a couple of dozen birds. It's been a long time since I went out for doves and I had forgotten a few things.
Overall, it was about a perfect last minute try at a new place. Next year I'll probably head over there again- there weren't many people, birds should be around, and it's close enough to home to make a quick afternoon hunt viable.
Grouse season still has a couple of weeks to go and soon it will be time for big game and ducks. Looking around, it's pretty clear that fall is getting into full swing.
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