Dove Hunt 2020 — How Was Yours?
Russ Chastain 09.14.20
Each year, our group — meaning, the group of folks who co-own and manage 700+ acres of Georgia hunting land — holds a dove hunt. We till and fertilize fields, plant crops to attract the birds, and go to great lengths to prepare. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes not.
This year, my nephew Ox was able to join me for his second dove hunt. We got to the property the day before the hunt and had a look around, but with scorching summer temperatures, neither of us had much energy after our long drives.
The next morning found us on the skeet range with friends, and early on his new-to-him Remington 11-87 gimped up. My own Browning Superposed over/under also gave me trouble with occasional light primer strikes on the bottom barrel, so we were glad we’d brought backup guns; his a Mossberg 500 and mine a Benelli SuperNova.
Back at camp, we examined the Remington and diagnosed the problem — a slightly bent “leg” on a sheet metal part. That one cured, I turned to the old 1930s twin-stacker, but I was not able to find an obvious problem. I cleaned out some bits of crud that I found in the action, assuming the trouble was that something had gotten between the hammer and receiver to limit the hammer’s travel.
While waiting for the afternoon hunt, we assembled the top portion of the tripod stand Ox was donating to the club. When the time came, we gathered our gear and headed to the field. The birds weren’t doing much where we were, and when I finally got a shot at a dove my gun rewarded me with a resounding CLICK rather than a bang. Crap.
This is the same Browning scattergun for which I made a new top firing pin 5 years ago; I have a spare firing pin for the bottom, which I will probably be installing pretty soon.
After swapping out guns, I sat with the SuperNova, which is probably my favorite pump shotgun of all time — at least, out of the few pumps I’ve owned which have included a few Mossberg 500s, a Remington Model 12, and one or two oddballs of which I have no clear memories. And that’s what I used to bag my one and only bird of the day.
Truth be told, I could have taken more shots but I’ve stopped trying to hit birds that are flying over the woods. They’re just too difficult to find without a dog. And I was distracted with nostalgia, as I sat just a few yards away from the spot where my father sat with his old Browning — the same one that was now mine — on his last dove hunt more than a decade earlier. On that day I’d been hunting with the SuperNova, and Dad had been sick. What we didn’t yet know was that cancer was eating him up.
Dad never took a shot at a bird that day; he just wanted to be out there with his friends. Then he asked me to take him to the truck so he could go lie down at camp. On the way, a friend snapped two of my favorite photos of my father and me as Dad left the dove field for the final time.
Next morning Ox and I hit the field again, and did a little better. We had a good time, which is the main thing, and some friends gave us their birds so my nephew had some meat to take home.
I’ve been frustrated on many a dove hunt… I’m not a great shotgunner and our fields have a lot of mediocre spots these days. But the older I get, the happier I am just to get out there and enjoy the experience — especially if I can do so with my favorite hunting buddy… as I did so often with Dad, and do these days with Ox.
We didn’t kill much, but our dove hunt was a great success. How was yours?