Santa Anna Hunting Area

This was a great hunt out by Coleman, Texas.  It was yet another TYHP hunt.  We were getting to go for pheasant and chukar.  Chukar is a little like a partridge.  My dad’s tried it before, and he says it’s great– like quail, but king size.

Friday 10/16/15:

We arrived at the Santa Anna Hunting Area at about 4 in the evening.  There was one other person and a Huntmaster there.  (The Huntmasters are the people who run the hunts.)  We set up the tent.  It was a pretty windy day, so that didn’t help, and it took a while.  By the time we were done, most of the other people had showed up.

Once most of the people were there, including the head Huntmaster, we did some skeet shooting.  There was a big field with tall grass over my head (I’m 5’6″) where we would be shooting the birds, right outside of camp.  There was a skeet thrower on the edge of that field, and it threw those clays until well after sundown for us to vaporize with lead shot.

I didn’t do too great.  We figured out later that my shotgun was too short for me and needed a thicker pad, which helped a lot when we tried it.

We shot until well after sundown, and then we had dinner.  It was a stew with chicken and vegetables, and there was some candy for us, too.

While we ate, we watched a safety video about where to point your gun, how to carry it safely, etc. etc.  We also learned that upland game hunting is where the most gun-related hunting accidents happen, or at least with bird hunting.  This is because you are walking in a broadside line with loaded guns.  You have to be very careful.

We talked for a little bit after the video, and then went to bed.  I was pretty comfortable and got to sleep pretty easily.

The next morning, I got up early and got ready.  Then I went over to the campfire and started eating Poptarts.  Then they made us some egg and sausage tacos and I ate one and a bit of those.  They were pretty good.

Then our guide showed up.  There were three different groups and several different fields for us to hunt in.  Once our guide was there, we were pretty much ready to go.

We headed out into the field, which was right next to our camp, with the dogs.  I put some ammo in my gun and we started walking.

We were all wearing hunter orange.  This was important because, the grass being as tall as it was, it wouldn’t be too hard to shoot someone.  We had to maintain a broadside line, too, so the orange made it much easier to see everyone else.

We brought down most of the pheasants we saw that were in range.  Not all of them, of course, but most of them.  I got three or four.  Our group got about 12 total.

At one point, I shot at a bird and missed.  I didn’t shoot again because it was too far.  But then this other kid, who is farther from the bird than I am, just shoots and drops it!

Later, we were walking through some brush.  A hen flew up right over another guy’s head.  He shot once, twice, and then three times before it finally died.  Then I shot, a few seconds too late.  But we suspected that all four rounds hit the bird, because it had an awful lot of holes in it.

That was about it.  After all that, we went back and cleaned the birds at Eldena’s facility.  She was the landowner and was really nice.  She showed us how to clean the birds and showed us around the facility a bit.

Then we went back to camp.  We played some games that were related to hunting and conservation, and at the end of each game there was a little lesson on those sorts of things, like the fundamentals for a deer’s survival– food, water and cover– and, since it was a quail hunt, we were showed (in a game) some of the challenges quail faced.  Quail had to run out of cover, grab some food, and get back into cover without getting caught by two major threats: hawks and none other than our own common house cat.

Lucky us!  We got to be the quail.  Everybody died.

Then we just hung around the camp.  Me and a couple other guys played football and soccer until sundown.

Dinner was delicious– fried fish, fried potato wedges, and beans, I think.  I, along with two or three other people, also made dump cakes.  They were called dump cakes because you dump fruit in there, dump topping in there, and put some butter on top.  It turned out really well.

There was a big campfire.  After dinner, we all sat down around the campfire and did thorns and roses.  I mentioned this in the story for my dove hunt in October 2014.  It’s where everyone goes over what was good and what wasn’t.

As usual, there weren’t really any thorns.  Everyone enjoyed themselves.

That was about it.  The next morning, we had french toast and bacon for breakfast and went for a group photo.  Then we were done and we left.

I really enjoyed myself.  I’m looking forward to my next TYHP hunt, which is this coming weekend (11/6/15).  We’re going for deer this time, and my brother is coming with me for his first deer hunt.

Opening Day Part 2: Limit

So that evening, we went back out at 4 or 4:30.  In about 15 minutes, my dad shot another dove!  That didn’t take long, I thought.  So we had one dove in the bag already.

I can’t explain this, but my brother got three more that evening.  My dad got four or five, and I got NINE MORE BIRDS.  I hit my limit!  You can’t shoot more than fifteen in one day, and I did that.  I had to stop after that.

Dove hunting is getting a little crazy.  We’re doing it a lot and getting a LOT of birds, so I can’t keep up with the stories.  Instead, what I’m going to do is at the end of the season, I’ll make a post that tells how many times we’ve been hunting and how many birds we got total.

Thanks y’all!

Opening Day Part 1: Morning of Mournings

My dad’s boss has a piece of land between Manor and Elgin.  It’s actually about five or ten minutes away from our shooting range, no more than that.  So the first night we got there, we got that piece of land mixed up with another one.  We ended up driving around on the wrong piece of land for a while.  When we figured that out, it stung quite a bit because there were doves, doves, and more doves.  When we drove up to the big pond, tons of doves flew up.  We were ecstatic until we learned we couldn’t hunt there.

Until we called the number on the gate.  Then, we were hooked up to a guy named Dennis, who owned the piece of land with all the doves.  He very kindly said we could hunt on his land.

So, on August 31, yesterday at the time of writing, we packed all our stuff up and went to bed excited.  My dad would be getting to hunt with me, which was rare, and for the first time ever, my 9-year-old brother would be hunting, too.

We got up at 5:15 A.M. on September 1 (today at the time of writing), had a quick breakfast, and left at 6.  Since it was so early, there was no traffic at all, so we got there within 20 minutes.  We walked around the pond and set up a few decoys.  We had four plastic doves that were in the roosting position.  We clipped those onto a fence, then set up our decoy that had battery-powered wings and another that had wind-powered wings.  When the wings turned, they looked exactly like real doves.

There were two other guys on the piece of land.  They were much better shots than we were, and they were dropping a few birds, but there weren’t very many birds at all.  It was a little disappointing, but we stayed there anyways.

Good thing, too!

Eventually, the sun got higher and we couldn’t see because it was right in our faces, so we moved to a slightly different spot.  Then, at about 8:00, the birds really started to come in.   Often, of course, they were way too far out, but we got shots.

Only problem was that we sucked.  We couldn’t hit anything.

Then, another one came in.  I felt confident.  Me and my dad stopped walking and waited.  It flew right over our heads.  Both of us shot, and it went down!

We had to finish it off.  It was a mourning dove, but for one of those, it was pretty big.  All of them were pretty big.

We put the dove in my belt pouch and kept hunting.

That’s when it got insane.  Tons of birds poured in, in ones and twos, yes, but also in big swarms, all coming to the decoys with the spinning wings.  We were constantly shooting.  At one point, in fact, I had used up my ammo and was reloading when there must’ve been 20 or more doves over our heads!  My brother William and my dad both shot, but they didn’t get any.  I couldn’t even shoot.

Then, William and my dad both shot and dropped one– William’s first dove.  He was really excited.  We found it and took it back.

By that time, it just didn’t stop.  William got another one.  We had a really hard time finding it, but we managed in the end.  My dad shot two, but they both dropped in the water.  I put one in the water, too, and it got a little frustrating, so we moved the decoys further away from the water.

I got another one.  My dad got one.  I thought I hit one and my dad went to look.  It turned out I had missed mine, but then we heard him shoot and yell:

“Got another one!”

I got one more.  Then, I shot and missed– or did I?  I wasn’t sure.  My dad said I just clipped its tail feathers, so it was still alive and well.  I wanted to check anyways.  So we went over there, but another one flew over our heads and I got it.  So we went back and picked it up.  Then, we went again to find that other one.  Another one flew over our heads.  I dropped it!  We got it and tried again.  This time, we made it without any distractions, but it wasn’t there.

Later, after we were done, we were heading back to the truck and we saw a dead dove on the ground.  It was missing its tail feathers.  That was the one I had hit!

So the total came out to ten doves– ten doves!  That was, of course, a record for me.  Then we noticed that they were all mourning doves, without a single whitewing in the mix.

That was awesome.  The reason I called this part one is because I’ll be recording dove season down in a day-by-day format.  So this part and the evening session of the same day will be one hunt.

Speaking of the evening session, we’ll be leaving to go do it in about ten minutes.  I’ll put the story up tomorrow or the next day.

…And may you always have meat in the freezer