Wednesday, November 5

Dove Day Afternoon

At three o'clock on a Wednesday, I am usually hunched over a monitor looking at spreadsheets. Today, I was hunched down in a sunflower field waiting for the telltale whistle of the dove approaching. This was my first time out hunting the dove on public land, and my third time for dove. I took my first dove as a teenager with a Falcon II wrist rocket, but that is another story. Today, I had a Browning BPS, which offered a higher probability than one 3/8" pachinko ball. I had arrived after Chris, who was generous enough not only to bring the Mojo dove and the silhouettes and full dove decoys, but also to have found a good spot in the field.

I had scouted this dove field, which was planted by the MD DNR in Federalsburg, Maryland. Having scouted this and other fields in the Idylwild WMA the week before, and could not believe my eyes when I saw this spot. I walked into a quarter mile of standing sunflowers with two lanes cut for these ground feeders. While I walked around it, the song bird were zipping by, perched on the pie plate size flowers happily chirping and eating the oily seed. I had looked for waterholes close by, but the area is very flat and does not hold much water. There was grit around, so that added promise. Doves eat their seeds whole and use the grit to pulverize the whole seeds in their muscular stomachs.

I was sitting on a stool 30 yards east of Chris and there was a light breeze with big rolling clouds and ~ 80 F. Hoping the feast would bring in these aerobatic birds, we took turns calling and were occasionally interrupted by shots from a few guys set up farther up the field. Chris noted that dove see color and the hunter looking for his downed dove in a bright red flannel made us chuckle. It was slow and we picked up our gear after about 2 hours and decided to scout some other spots.

Travelling light with gun, license and a handful of shells, we walked through some beautiful rolling plains that looked as though they held turkey and deer (as we noticed many tracks). Although hoping to jump shoot dove, it was the conversation and camaraderie that we limited out on that late summer day. While the shooting action and excitement of a full game bag is always hoped for, I will never grow tired of limiting out on the shared love of being afield.

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