This was a packing protocol, cataloging all my needs for the trip from truck to shade tree. At one time I hunted out in the sun along fencerows and stock tanks. But if I’m going to miss every acrobatic crossing bird, I’m doing it under the canopy of a south Texas mesquite. Whiffing shots from the shade makes a man feel better.
According to my notes, I would need four boxes of shells, each with a specific task. The first would satisfy my opening day tradition of trying for birds too far away, too high, or requiring some arbitrary swing and lead that I have not mastered. By box two I’m humbled, and only attempt doves that fly directly at my mesquite. The other two boxes, my “meat getters”, would be ready for any birds that foolishly hover over my spinning decoy.
Two types of decoys were a must. Some clip-ons to hang like holiday ornaments in the tree behind me. This was a vane attempt to fool a flock into believing that a specific tree was worth the danger of being wrapped in bacon. I hear there are other ways to eat dove that don’t involve a slice of fatty pork. That’s just plain foolish.
The spinning decoy is a do-not-forget item. Year after year the doves work to it landing right on top and on the ground near by. I can’t say how I’ve avoided peppering it to pieces over the years. Now that I consider it, this might be a sign of my poor aim. I suddenly feel less inclined to brag about my unscathed spinning dove. Maybe this is the year.
Ear protection also makes the list. Forget foam plugs, I need amplifying muffs. I like to hear the other hunters around me. The conversations offer great motivation.
“Hey-oh! My first triple of the season!”
“Does it seem like they are flying slower this morning?”
“I should have brought my 28 gauge to make this more challenging”
I don’t own a twenty-eight gauge. I need all the pellets I can get. There was a time I tried to be sporty and came home with sleek little twenty. That gun sure was a peach to shoot. But you simply cannot eat shotgun shells. I sold that yellow shell shooter to someone much more capable. Back to the twelve and the red shells with more pellets.
Next on the bucket list were accessories. Dove hunting requires a certain style - an intricate mix of traditional shotgun apparel and camouflage. I satisfy the dress code by packing a nice leather and canvas game bag. It has three pouches. A large one in back cut with ample room for my rare limit, and the side shell pockets that I find too small for my hand. Did we not learn a lesson from potato chips in a can?
Stuff it all in the bucket and you might have room left for a water bottle and some snacks. My preference is venison jerky. It’s a great reminder that I can, and have, connected with a game animal. Deer are less likely to fly by the stand at warp speed on the way to the corn feeder. I appreciate the docile, slow movements of the whitetail. If they ever figure out how to arrive for a meal in a redlined tailspin, my hunting days will be over.