It’s a ritual handed down, passed on, and played out across the country every September – it’s the Opening Day of Dove Season! For most it’s a tune-up, traditionally the beginning of the fall hunting season, an annual affair filled with family tradition. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80 most will agree there’s just something about getting together outside with friends and family, sharing the experience, and making memories.
For me, the best thing about the dove season opener has very little to do with the actual hunt or my shooting prowess. However, I did shoot better than the national average that hovers somewhere around three birds per box of shells (25 shots). That guestimate still blows me away. I mean who averages a dove every 8.333 shells? That’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong I spend my fair share on 16-gauge Remington game loads, but a bird for every 8.333 shells? I’d like to think that I’m a better than average shot, but I think it has more to do with the fact I simply pull the trigger less and I like my birds close.
Like a lot of hunters who make the annual pilgrimage to the dove fields it’s more about whom you’re hunting with and less about counting shells, although putting some meat on the grill was my first priority. Shooting better than my partner was a close second.
This year my brother-in-law Brent invited me to an evening hunt on a private patch of ground near Cushing, OK. Perfect timing, I thought since the mercury in Oklahoma only recently dipped below the century mark– just another beautiful day in America’s Heartland.
We made the 45-minute drive west from Tulsa, arriving a good two hours before sunset. We surveyed the freshly disked field and called out our positions. Brent took the east end zone and I headed west in my Chippewa 8" Mocc Toe Waterproof Lace Ups. Feeling the weight of my grandfathers Belgium-made Browning in my hand as I crossed the field brought back incredible memories of the two men who shaped my understanding and appreciation for the outdoor world. Whether they knew it or not, Dad and Grandpa sent me down a path that would ultimately lead me to my chosen profession.
In a world of synthetic stocks, camouflage coatings, and recoil reducing mechanisms, it took a beautiful 60-year old shotgun to remind me how I got here. Every loaded shell and trigger pull was a gentle reminder of my outdoor heritage, every miss a sign of how much more practice I truly need; every harvested bird resulted in an automatic smile for me and undoubtedly for the two men who got me here as well.
Comment from: huntley ritter [Visitor]
10/10/11 @ 23:34
I\'m interested in a pair of boots that I use while packing with my horses but also will work when I get off and need to hunt. Any advice?
Comment from: Jeff Beiulue [Visitor]
10/11/11 @ 06:57
I have fond memories of when we used to head out to west texas each year in early October. Thousands of birds migrate through the are. It was so much fun getting your limit, plus being with good friends.
Comment from: Erik [Visitor]
10/11/11 @ 07:52
I just spent a wonderful fall day in Michigan on a pheasant hunt. After 20 minutes of wading through dew-laden, waist-high sorghum, I sure wished I had a pair of boots like those waterproof moccs.
Wouldn\'t mind that 16-gauge Browning either!
Thanks for sharing Mike.
Comment from: Robb Nelson [Visitor]
10/11/11 @ 14:31
Great article Mike as always. Opening day of dove season is a tradition for a lot of people across the country! It was like a state holiday when I lived in Texas and it is a big deal in Colorado. For me and many others \"Life is about making memories in the field.\"
Comment from: Lynne Green [Visitor]
10/11/11 @ 14:54
Like you, my dad got me into hunting - at about 12/13 he started duck hunting again and my sisters and I could go anytime - I have very fond memories of those days. I still have the shotgun shell from my first hunt - yellow 20 gauge...but I graduated very quickly to a 12 gauge. My favorite saying when we sat down to eat our bounty...chew carefully. And I would have to credit my dad for my ultimate career choice - it was the hunting and shooting that led me to this path of Sporting Clays, photography and a love of the outdoors!
Comment from: Cody Lawson [Visitor]
10/12/11 @ 22:37
You are right Mike, it is not about the number of birds you harvest or the amount of shells it takes, but about the people you hunt with. My dad always used to tell me, \"If you really want to get to know someone, just take them hunting\".
Comment from: Cody [Visitor]
10/12/11 @ 22:52
Opening day always brings a rush of memories and excitement. Now that bow seasons are opening and the rut is closing in, the blood is really getting to a boil! Thanks for remembering your heritage and appreciating all the little things that make our sport so great!
Comment from: Vaughn Esper [Visitor]
10/13/11 @ 09:24
Good article, dove hunting in Oklahoam has been a passion of mine and I have put together numberous hunts that would include up to 30 hunters and yes they will shoot more shells than they hit dove. They are a very hard target to hit. Sounds if the boots Mike were wearing would be a great addition to my clothing inveentory. Please send me additional information. I sincerely enjpoy reading the blogs and Mike\'s writings are extremely interesting.
Keep them coming.
Comment from: Zac [Visitor]
10/19/11 @ 10:55
Hey Mike! Addie\'s family is going to take me dove hunting for the first time this fall. What type of Chippewa\'s would you recommend to keep my flat footed feet dry?
Comment from: Tyler McGauley [Visitor]
10/24/11 @ 09:21
Great articles Mike! It\'s great to read about your amazing adventures around the world. Keep it up sir!
Comment from: michael garner [Visitor]
01/17/12 @ 18:10
i have the same gun a5 is the best gun ever i have 1958 light 12
Comment from: michael garner [Visitor]
01/17/12 @ 18:15
im a lineman i wear youalls boot at work out of 18 lineman ive got 6 them to wear these boots instead of hoffman, wescoast,and halls this is the best boot for every day work id like to come on a hunt with you my name is mike garner i live in newport nc and hunt alot the mike@mike garner show
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