For a lot of folks in the south going on a dove hunt the first Saturday in September is a tradition. I guess some call it a “hunt” but most call it a “shoot”. That’s because you don’t really hunt the birds as much as sit in or along the sides of a field of millet or sunflowers or, I suppose, corn that has been cut or plowed under and wait on the birds to fly in to feed. Opening day can be quite an event with Bar-B-Que, banter before heading to your spot, and often sitting on your stool listening to the Georgia game, or the Alabama game, or the Ole Miss game or the Tennessee game…for the optimist.
Unfortunately, this year, I missed opening day but the boys wanted to go shoot at some doves and I hate passing up a chance to hang with Caleb (9 years old), Nathan (8 years old) or Abigail (just turned 13) for that matter. It won’t be long before they are apt to not want me around so I’m going to drink it in and forge as strong a bond as I can, while I can.
Last year I took Caleb on the opening day shoot at South Fork Hunting Preserve in Danielsville, Georgia. I called the owners Jacob and Colby and they told me that the opening day hunt this year had been better than last year’s and they were still seeing some birds. They gave me a good rate if I wanted to bring the boys so we loaded up late Saturday morning and off we went on our two-hour drive to Danielsville.
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are a blessing and a curse. When you need to pick up something they are great but, between the boys and me, anytime you set foot in either store you can plan on being there for at least an hour or more. This trip was no different and the Bass Pro Shop in Lawrenceville, Georgia was on the way. Last year I bought Caleb a camo shirt and cap to hunt in so I stopped to get Nathan the same. Caleb had lost his cap since last year.
“Daddy, are you going to buy me another cap?” Life lesson coming up “Sorry buddy, I already bought you one. You’ll have to pay me back for this one.”
We found him one on clearance for $3.99
“Daddy, can we shoot the rifles in the arcade?” “I guess so guys.” Come on.
Back on the road now? Nope.
“Daddy, I’m hungry!”
Off to the food court and Subway now for another half an hour.
Finally, back on the road and we’re still an hour away. It’s after 2pm now.
We finally get to South Fork and meet up with Hayden. We noticed several doves on the powerlines on the drive in so we were encouraged. We picked a spot close to where we’d seen some birds. I carry the heavy cooler across the field and set it along the tree line.
Now, this is where you’re supposed to get quiet and wait on the birds. However, I bought a single-shot 20 gauge for Caleb last year. Nathan had never shot it and it had been a year for Caleb. Of course, Nathan wanted lessons and Caleb wanted a refresher. I was planning on this anyway. I knew it was coming.
So, we talked about safety and I gave them the old “If I catch you pointing the barrel at anything that shouldn’t be shot you’ll be finished hunting this trip.” I showed the safety “Red means ready to fire boys. Don’t take the gun off safe until you’re ready to fire” And “Don’t stick the barrel down in the dirt.”
We went back over keeping the stock snug to your shoulder. Caleb got a good bruise on his right shoulder last year from having it in the wrong place and not snug. Multiple times I helped Nathan hold it up, pull the hammer back, take the safety off’
”Ready when you are buddy. Just squeeze the trigger” …only to have him change his mind when he thought about the recoil again, and again, and again.
Caleb had asked me last year why it hurt more to hunt than to fish and I told home that is was because fishing rods don’t kick.
They finally settled in and we had a few doves fly by. I had my 12 gauge and I took a few shots. But, even seeing birds, boys get restless. Nathan finally got over his recoil apprehension and we wasted a few 20-gauge shells.
We notice several doves on the powerlines about a football field length away. Now we, I mean I, pick up the cooler and carry it to our new stand.
Caleb is the more curious of my boys.It wasn’t long before the boys noticed the remaining forage that had been planted. “Daddy, what if we spread these seeds out in front of us?” Now, I’ve got to remind myself to be patient and the boys spend the next 20 minutes walking around spreading seeds in the, futile, hopes that doves are going to suddenly fly in by the droves. “Go ahead and spread some out and see guys.”
Eventually it starts getting dark and it is time to head back to Canton but the boys and I are hungry. There is little hot wing place Caleb and I ate at last year so we stopped there. Both boys want to sit by me so we all cram into the same side of a booth facing the big screen and watch some ESPN while we eat. A plethora of “little boy questions” bombard me from the right and the left. Now it’s time for the two-hour drive north of Atlanta.
What did we accomplish today?
Rambling around Bass Pro Shop. Gun safety lessons. Hunting lessons. Bonding with my boys. Memories for them. Spending several hours in the field instead of in front of some electronic. Eating hot wings. Chatting about multiple “little boy topics”.
Birds shot? ZERO…
Successful? Absolutely, the most successful dove shoot ever!
If this piece speaks to you, SUBSCRIBE. If you think it will speak to someone else, SHARE.