Lead doves about the length of a schoolbus

-A A +A
By Shelton Young


It’s hot, real hot.
A scraggly tree in the fencerow offered little in the way of protection from the sun. But, the choice of this lone sapling wasn’t for its scrawny umbrella of shade.
It was chosen because it helped break up my outline and…with my camo…helped me blend in with the foliage!
But, and most important, my little tree was by far the highest piece of structure on my side of the field. I was hopefully on a “flight path.”
Yeah it was the first dove shoot of the season and I was ready…with a few modifications. Due to my quad bypass surgery the last of May, I was using my 20-gauge shotgun and really light loads.
Was this my preferred dove shooting setup? No, I wanted my 12-gauge over/under with custom loaded number seven shot. However, I was out hunting and would’ve been happy with a BB gun if that’s all I could’ve used.
After getting settled in, it was just a matter of time before the doves started flying. With the little 20-gauge, I figured I’d need to be real selective with my shots. The up side was that I had a great excuse to use for my missed shots!
Eventually a lone little dove flew in and landed on a power-line before I could get my gun mounted for a shot.
Just sittin’ there staring at me with a “I dare you to shoot” look. This bird was asking for it! Sittin’ on a power line–an easy shot.
But, several thoughts crossed my mind: It’s an easy shot…but it’s not ethical. It’s an easy shot…but it’s probably not legal and besides, I don’t want to have to pay for a power line repair.
A little wind kicked up and the early season doves rode it like a roller coaster! Turning, flipping and just plain burning air as they sped past!
Okay, pick a single bird, swing on it from behind. Then, as the barrel catches up and passes the bird…butt, belly, beak, boom! Wave as the dove keeps on flying. Of course, I could’ve shot again before I waved goodbye, but remember what I said about a 20-gauge and selective shots?
In all probability I missed because I didn’t lead (shoot in front of the bird) enough. That’s when I heard a voice from the past in my head. Before his passing, I had the privilege of going on a dove shoot with Mark’s dad, Tip Whitehouse. After watching me shoot and miss several times Mr. Whitehouse came over and said “You’re not leadin’ those birds enough.” “So how much lead should I give’em?” I asked.
Mr. Whitehouse pointed out that after I thought I was leading them too much to lead’em a little more! I guess he realized I was either a little “green” or just plain stupid because then he made it simple by saying “lead’em about the length of a big yellow bus!”
That was years ago when I was indeed “green” when it came to doves. We won’t discuss the “stupid” part!
But, to this day I can’t shoot without thinking “big yellow bus!”
So when the next dove came in, I remembered the big yellow bus as I established my lead, touched off the shot, and watched the bird fold.
One bird, after months of not being able to get outdoors much, fish, or do anything else. It was a great day!
If you have some good dove shoot, goose hunt or woodie/teal stories and/or pictures, please share them with us.
Don’t forget about the Ham Days Outdoor Weekend!
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!