This was another TYHP hunt. Surprisingly enough, it was right smack dab in the middle of Pflugerville. I only had two weeks before this hunt to learn how to shoot a shotgun (accurately). I was using a 20 gauge. We drove over the curb of a very busy road and along the side of a cornfield, and then we were there. Just like that. The kids who hadn’t done any shooting yet, which included me, of course, went to go warm up with the shotguns and try to bust some skeet. I couldn’t hit a single thing– I hit underneath the clay bird every single time. Then my dad pointed out that my length of pull was different because I didn’t have my shoulder pad on. So I put on the pad and tried some more, and then I really started to hit the skeet a bit more.
We weren’t seeing any doves at all, but the huntmasters said that the doves usually came in at about 4:00. And when we went into the field where we would be hunting at about 4:30, we were already seeing a few doves. So they were a little bit late that day, but not too late.
My friend Matt set up next to me. The doves really started coming in after a while, and Matt shot at every single one. One of them passed close to me. I shot at it and hit it– but it flew off anyways. We could easily tell I had hit it by the white cloud of tail feathers hanging in the air.
After much more shooting and a sorer shoulder, I hit another one– and it went straight down. I whooped, put down the shotgun, and ran over to the fluttering bird. I was trying to finish it off by cracking the neck, so I pulled, and pulled, and pulled the head sideways– until it came all the way off. Oh well. It was dead anyways. But it did get in a few more headless flaps.
I ran over to show Matt, when some doves came in from the left, where I had been. My dad had told me to stay where I was, but I wanted to show Matt my dove. Matt told me to get next to him, which I did, and then he shot at the doves. A bird folded its wings at his shot and fell at my feet. It was a much quicker kill than mine had been. My dad said, “See? If you had stayed over here like I told you to, you would’ve shot another dove.” I told him it was worth it because Matt had got one too.
Later, another dove came in. I hit it. It slowed down a lot, and if I had remembered I had another shell in the gun, I could’ve easily finished it off. But my prayers had been answered. Ever since I got picked for the hunt, I had asked God continuously to let me shoot at least one dove. And I did. I’d never gone bird hunting before, and now I’m addicted to it.
That evening, we plucked the bird and put it in a plastic bag. Everyone introduced themselves around the campfire and we did “Thorns and Roses.” In other words, everyone talked about the good things of the day and the bad things. There weren’t any real thorns, though. They were all jokes like, “There were too many mockingbirds that we couldn’t shoot,” and stuff like that. For me, the only thorns were that I couldn’t stay there for the rest of my life and shoot doves.
Since we were only 30 minutes away from home, my dad and I drove home that evening. We got up really early the next morning and drove all the way back to the property we were hunting on. It turned out we were the early risers: there were only a few people up yet. We had a breakfast of Pop Tarts and then we were off. I chose a slightly different spot this time.
We didn’t see any doves for a while, but they came eventually. They were really high, but I had plenty of shells and there was no harm in trying, and failing. I already had my one dove anyway. It seemed that everybody was taking this outlook. A flock of doves would fly over way too high to hit, and you would hear 12 shotguns spitting little pellets into the air. Often, after the shooting, you would hear the pellets hitting the ground around you.
All the doves flew way to high that morning– except for a few mourning doves. These two stupid birds flew right in between all the hunters. Quite a few shots rang out, and this time, one of the doves went down. My friend had hit the dove, but someone else had brought it down right next to them, so they got the bird.
All the doves were flying to the same place, so me and my dad decided to move. The new spot seemed to be a little bit better, except for the fact that all the doves were still flying too many miles above the clouds for us to shoot them. Except for another pair of foolish mourning doves.
The two doves flew right at us. It was a great shot opportunity. By all rights, I should’ve been able to hit one of them. But I didn’t.
I guess it was a lesson to be grateful for what I get. And after my slight disappointment, which was only very slight, I went back to being euphoric about the dove in the freezer. But two weeks later, we still haven’t had a chance to cook the dove, because of another upcoming hunt which will be in the next post.