Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dove Hunt Debrief...

About an hour after I wrote the last post, I had all my stuff packed in the truck and was headed East, to meet up with my coworker and then head on down to El Centro to crash at his parents place.
We've been having some crazy weather the last few days, extreme highs with humidity interspersed with showers. I got caught in one of those "storms", driving through heavy (for SoCal) rain followed by hail! Weird!
We got down to El Centro, where I met my buddy's folks who were real nice and kept us well fed and in beer. I got to listen to some of his uncle's hunting stories, learned about the area and had a good time, turning in around midnight only slightly intoxicated.
At 4am, we dragged ourselves out of bed and into the truck to go meet the rest of the crew - two of his buddies, M and T, and T's dad D. These boys were country to the core - jeans, shirts, boots and hats. T works as a ranch hand (which was very instrumental in our getting the prime hunting spots) and one of his pastimes is bull-riding. His dad reminded me of Boomhauer on "King of the Hill" - real thick accent, I got maybe every other word he was saying.
We made our introductions, then saddled up and followed them down to Calexico, where T had staked out a nice spot on a friend's farm. We got our gear all sorted, broke out the shotguns and waited for dawn - officially at 5:45.
Right at 5:45, all hell broke loose through the valley - I swear it sounded like we were in Beirut or something! I thought opening day of deer season was bad - Oh no... Our spot started out pretty slow, but in short order I had learned to tell a dove's flight from other birds and we were knocking them down. We stayed there for about an hour or so, then headed over to a feed lot where another of T's buddies worked. This place was insane! there were tons of birds and we were dropping them left right and center, climbing into the pens to get our quarry, grabbing them out of the canal that ran by the property.
Seeing the birds come overhead, tracking and then nailing them was quite a bit more intense than skeet... harder, too, since the birds tend to fly a little erratically, especially once they start getting shot at...
We ended our hunt at the feed lot where T works (since he actually had to go to work that day) and bagged a couple more while we waited. Things were slowing down at this point, the sun was beating down on us mercilessly and I'm pretty sure the birds had headed for shade.
We dropped off T's dad and headed over to Denny's for a beer and some late breakfast (it was about 11:30 by then), after which I was introduced to the task of cleaning the doves.
Since I had plans to spend the rest of Labor Day weekend with my family, I reluctantly got my gear together and headed on home.
All in all, I had an excellent time. Shooting doves was a real test of my abilities - I shot way more times than I hit, let me tell you! - but it was a fun, exciting way to spend a late summer morning. I can see why these guys come out here and do it religiously. The guys I went with were friendly, down-to-earth people who treated me as one of their own. I'd be happy to hunt with them again anytime.
Oh, and in case you're wondering... I shot four that I'm sure of, with another that may have been mine (two of us shot at it at the same time). I came home with ten all told (I could have had more, since they wanted me to take them all, but I didn't want to chance getting stopped with more than the legal limit in possession).
And, no, ten doves is not a lot of meat at all. Pretty damn tasty though...

7 comments:

GUYK said...

I used to do a lot of dove hunting and was getting to where I was shooting better than twenty five percent which I thought was losuy until I started going with some that thought they were cracker jack dove men..hell I found that twenty five percent was pretty good..

I sure knocked more feathers than I brought down birds though..

Mushy said...

A friend near Memphis said he and 3 others got 70 birds! There was another guy shooting from the inside of his air conditioned truck!

~Fathairybastard~ said...

It sounds like a lot of fun, but the last time I went a guy, one of my relatives, shot right across in front of me. Then he told me to go get that dove. I told him to go fuck himself. Drunk rednecks can ruin anything, I guess. Hell, I'd like to try it, but you've got to shoot a hell of a lot of those things to get any meat at all, right?

phlegmfatale said...

Well done, you! Not a bad haul for a first outing. Glad you had a good time!

DirtCrashr said...

How do you "clean" them anyhow??
It sounds like a fun hunt, and you got to meet some original California rednecks. We DO have 'em! :-)

Kevin said...

GuyK - that's a helluva lt better average than I had, thats for sure!
Mushy - Must be nice to shoot from an air-conditioned truck... could have used that down in El Centro - don't think the Game Wardens would dig it too much though...
FHB - yep, not much meat at all, but a lot of fun and a challenge to bag them. Sorry your relative was such an ass.
Phlemmy - why thank you! I had an awesome time, hope to be doing it again soon!
DC - Pull the wings off, hold the dove breast side up in your right hand, feel for the sternum with your left thumb, hook your thumb under the sternum and give it a good pull. The breast should detach from the rest of the body and you can peel the breast skin with the feathers right off... as for CA rednecks, you're right! They don't come much more country than these guys!

phlegmfatale said...

True dat, about the California rednecks. I'm related to some in Tulare county - a set of 5 brothers who have maybe one full mouth of decent teeth amongst them. And that was before any of them took up meth... Sheesh!