First time hunters and those with years of experience celebrate special times afield when dove seasons open.
Story and Photography by Bob Zaiglin
As Texas scatter gunners entertain another dove season, they can’t help but generate new memories while recalling those very special ones made in years past. It’s a special time when we exit our controlled internal environments and enter the wilds of Texas where heat and mosquitoes take over. As far as the Zaiglin clan is concerned, hunting is one way our families get together and enjoy what my daughters and granddaughters like best. An evening of wing shooting ranks at the top of their list.
I can’t think of a bad dove season as they all have been outstanding, but the 2014 season was especially memorable for me because I assisted my seven-year-old granddaughter McKenzie collect her first dove on her family ranch north of Uvalde.
Like all dove season openers, there’s usually some dove hanging around, but with a large sunflower field nearby and a fair amount of water in a small earthen tank near my daughter Beth’s house, I was confident we would enjoy some exceptional shooting.
Arriving right after lunch on the first afternoon, I visited with Mac to see if she wanted to try and shoot a dove. As she responded with a quick yes, the excitement in her voice and facial expression was energizing, so we went over some last minute safety instructions and informed her mom that we would make our way down to the tank thirty minutes or so earlier than the rest of the group so that Mac would have a chance to shoot a dove before the birds get disturbed.
As we approached the tank early that evening, several mourning doves obtaining grit along the tank dam exploded skyward. With safety of principal concern, my intent was to set on the tank dam, get somewhat concealed, and catch a bird or two on the ground, which didn’t take long. Birds were abundant, but Mac had difficulty shouldering the .410 single shot, allowing the nervous birds ample time to fly off. After she took a couple of shots at singles without success, I had to come up with a better game plan. This time I told Mac we would wait until four or five birds were on the ground feeding together before she would shoot and it worked. Within a few minutes, four mourning dove were collecting grit on the tank dam when I slowly slid a long, narrow .410 shell into the short barreled shotgun, cocked it, and handed it to Mac, whom with a little assistance from grandpap squeezed the trigger, interrupting the quiescent early evening only to see one of the bluish-gray birds flopping on the dusty ground.