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We are about two weeks away from one of our major holidays. It’s sort of the “unofficial” end of summer and “old school” start of high school football.
Yes, the first of September brings that holiday which I spent a lifetime trying to avoid... Labor Day! And, to be honest, given the choice between hunting/fishing and any semblance of anything close to labor, I think most normal people would choose hunting and fishing. But, I’m not really talking about football, end of summer or labor of any sort.
To some of us, Sept. 1 means only one thing... the opening of the 2011 dove season or, in a sense, the start of another fall hunting season.
Whitetail archery is on the way as is the early resident Canada Goose and Wood Duck seasons. Time to secure the fall deer hunting area and work on the quack shack.
But, for my crew, it all starts with dove season. Between now and then, there’ll be a bunch of shells shot at numerous clay birds. At first, several of these birds will be subjected to some pretty harsh language as the only “breakage” will be when they hit the ground. However, as the muscles remember how to mount a shotgun, the eyes pick up the bird and the brain calculates lead, birds will bust.
New guns will be broken in, as in checked for fit, and patterned. This is to assure they hit where you’re looking. And, of course, every gun will be cleaned several times.
Dove hunting wouldn’t be much if it wasn’t for all the stuff you get to acquire. Shotguns, whether they be semi-autos, pump action, side-by-sides, single shot or over-and-unders. I’ve actually seen everything from used $50 single shots to $20,000 over/unders in a dove field. Word of advice: If you notice an old guy with a worn shiny pump shotgun, watch out, he can shoot. No, that won’t be me, maybe Mark.
Hardly needs mentioning, but of course, we’ll get to wear camo. Dove stools and plenty of shells will pretty much have you set up.
There’s also the Mojo dove decoys that clip to tree limbs or fences. Heck, they even make an artificial tree to clip your decoys on if there’s not a real one available.
Motion dove decoys, either wind powered or motorized, are supposed to add realism to your decoy spread.
So, now you’re set, shotgun, camo, stool, shell belt and pouch (for empties) and decoys. Be sure to have plenty of shells. If you shoot to the national average of one dove per five shots, you’ll need 75 shells (three boxes) to get your 15-bird limit. Of course, that’s if you’re an average shot. Shoot good and ya won’t need as many, shoot bad and we’ll need more, many more!
Don’t forget, you must have a Kentucky hunting license and either the dove permit or the migratory bird permit, a.k.a. Kentucky Waterfowl Permit.
With the dove permit, you can only shoot doves. With the waterfowl permit, you can also shoot waterfowl. But, for waterfowl, you’ll also need the federal waterfowl stamp.
Everything is now set except for the place to shoot. This is where it gets interesting. There are several social shoots, with exclusive guests, where you either have to be “somebody” or a close, personal friend of “somebody.” Sadly, I don’t fall into either category. Then, you have to have the shoots where a bunch of “anybodies” get together to shoot some doves. The “somebody” shoots may be over sunflower fields or some together food source. The “anybody” shoots may be over bush-hogged weed fields or a cut corn field.
Usually, corn isn’t cut by the opening of the season and doves are concentrated on limited available fields. This year, a lot of corn is being cut early so birds may be scattered.
If you have a field or are invited to a field, you might consider scouting the field prior to the hunt. Doves enter and leave a field using somewhat predictable flight paths.
Know where to set up and increase your odds at birds. You won’t shoot any better, but you’ll get more chances to shoot.
Here are some “spots” to consider. High spots in a field, points of brush/trees that stick out into a field, corners where fences meet, water holes, gaps in a tree line, heavy timber (they’ll enter a field from a roost area.) Of course, fence lines, power lines and ditch lines are all used as flight paths.
But, if you have a big, dead, isolated tree away from anything else, you might have it the jackpot! Still, the ability to hit birds is all up to the shooter.
Want to make a game of shooting? Try this, shooter who gets his/her limit first is a winner So is the shooter who gets his/her limit with the fewest shots. I’ve even seen shoots where the hunter was allowed to take only one box (25 shells) to the field. Now, that teaches you real quick to be selective with your shots.
Once you have your doves and they’ve all been cleaned, it’s time to cook doves. The best I’ve ever eaten are Mark Whitehouses’ dove kabobs. I’ll try to get his recipe before the season opens.
n The Mid-Kentucky Bass Anglers fished Springfield Reservoir last Sunday. While I’ve not been released to fish yet, I at least got to watch the weigh-in.
Coming in first with 4 pounds, 5.8 ounces was the team of Stacy Benningfield and Joe Hickey. They also had the big bass with one weighing 3 pounds, 8.8 ounces.
A weight of 2 pounds, 5.8 ounces gave the team of Danny Marcum and Jason Brady a solid second place. Coming in third with a bag of 2 pounds, 3.2 ounces was Mike Veatch and Donald Hafley.
Their next tournament will be on Taylorsville Lake Sunday, Aug. 28. Launch time has been changed from the original schedule. Launch will be at 7 a.m. from Possum Ridge with a 3 p.m. weigh-in. Come on out and give it a try.
n Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the September 17 Ham Days Kids Day at Sportsman Lake. This is hosted by the Marion County Sportsman Club, Mid-Kentucky Bass anglers, Fishing for Kids, Heartland Safe Community Coalition, Lebanon/Marin County Kiwanis Club and our chamber of commerce.
Then on Sunday, we’ll have an open bass tournament on Fagen Branch. There’ll be a special “Big Hawg” award for the biggest bass caught as well as payment to three places for bag weight.
Guess that’s it for now. Get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Stay safe and I’ll see ya next week.