My summer has been full of outdoor adventures – from Boy Scout National High Adventure camps to professional bass fishing tournaments. But, like most outdoorsmen across the country I can’t wait for the August heat to give way to cooler temperatures and the fall hunting season. Luckily we’re on the verge of just that!
September 1st traditionally marks the beginning of the fall hunting season and, for Oklahomans, the opening day of dove season! I’m fortunate this year because I get to kick off my hunting season with new friends. My next-door neighbors just happen to be members of one of Oklahoma’s most prominent ranching families – the Drummonds.
The Drummond name has been associated with Oklahoma ranching since the late 1800’s. So when the opportunity to scout dove fields with Frederick Drummond’s (1864 – 1913) great-great-great-grandson, Jackson Frederick Drummond, presented itself, I jumped at the chance to explore the historic ranch.
With Jackson navigating, we made the 45-mile drive from Tulsa north and east to the family ranch in Osage County. Passing through the main gate that bears the original Frederick Drummond “FD” brand Jackson declared, “We’re here!”
Before us was an incredible 20,000-acres spread covering 70 square miles of tall grass prairie and rolling hills. For the Drummond’s, this is literally where it all began. Amazingly, the original tract of land has been a continuous cattle operation since 1890.
Taking Jackson’s lead, I made sure to pack three essentials – plenty of water, a shotgun, and snake boots. With mid-day temperatures nearing the century mark and a heat index guaranteed to top it, we wanted to be ready for anything – particularly dehydration and venomous snakes.
I chose a trusty Belgium-made Browning 16-guage that I inherited from my grandfather and my Chippewa 17” Aged Regina all-leather snake boots. Jackson grabbed a short-barreled, hard sight Winchester 30-30 ranch rifle and his classic 17” Viper Cloth snake boots.
With an abundance of food and water, it was not difficult to target migratory bird patterns or prime shooting spots. Crisscrossing the ranch on 4-wheelers we conducted a textbook survey checking water levels on ranch streams and ponds, noted dove numbers on spring wheat fields, and kept a keen eye on tree lines and fence lines for roosting birds.
At the end of the day Jackson had more than proven himself as a part-time cowboy and seasoned ranch guide. We strategized, surveyed the lay of the Drummond land, and generally had fun.
And when it was all said and done, we only had one snake encounter. What I thought was a cottonmouth turned out to be a diamond-backed water snake – my mistake. Nevertheless, the ranch offered us a sneak peak at a promising dove season opener. I’ll keep you posted.
In the mean time, let me know what you’re doing to kick off your own 2010 hunting season. I’m confident some of you out there are cleaning shotguns, repairing decoys, and looking for new gear. Perhaps even a new pair of Chippewa Boots.