Date: 9/1/12 – 9/2/12
Report By: Chris
Weather Conditions: Sunny, little wind, temperature in the mid 90’s
It has been a family tradition for Tom, Craig, our dad, our good family friend Mr. Blake, and I to take a trip for opening weekend of dove season for as long as I can remember. We have been doing this trip since before we were old enough to even hold a gun so we got to act as the bird dogs.
This trip has attributed to many of my favorite childhood memories. It has always been man time at is finest. When we were young it was the only time Dad would let us curse, so we would run around spitting out as many curse words as we could before we had to leave the field and come home to Mom. We would also get to drink O’Douls (non-alcoholic beer) and take a few puffs on his cigars or pipe, which we pretended to like, but would secretly pour out or snuff out when the men weren’t looking. We would race to fetch the birds after they had been shot and would help clean them for the table. We got to carry around our BB guns and feel like one of the men with their shot guns.
This year continued the tradition of making some great memories and shooting a few birds while we were at it.
Our destination was Uvalde, Texas. Uvalde is a small farming city in Central Texas known for its cotton crop and great hunting. Our plan was to hunt Saturday and Sunday, which was opening weekend for dove season in Texas. If we had to, we planned on hunting the morning and the evening in order to get each person a limit of birds each day. We loaded up the truck Friday morning with all of our shotguns, decoys, bird bags, coolers, and the rest of our gear, and hit I-10 West headed towards San Antonio.
Ever since they built Buc ee’s, it has become part of the tradition to stop their on the way. Anyone who has never been to Buc ee’s hasn’t lived! It is the king of all pit stops. It is famous for its beef jerky, root beer, and beaver nuggets. We pulled over, loaded up on some snacks and drinks, and then got back on the road.
When we were about 40 miles from Uvalde, we started seeing doves. Huge flocks of doves! More doves than we had ever seen! We thought that this must be what Argentina dove hunting looks like. For the rest of the drive we were watching flocks of hundreds of doves flying all around the road. We were pumped and ready to get in the field!
We finally arrived in Uvalde in the early evening. After getting unpacked, we spent some time smoking cigars, having a few drinks, and talking about what tomorrow was going to bring us. We were all so excited we could barely sleep that night like a bunch of kids on Christmas Eve.
We sprang out of bed at 5 AM Saturday morning with the taste of cigars and Bud Light Platinum still in our mouth. We threw on our camo, packed the truck up, and headed for the field. When we got there, it was still pitch black outside. We picked a spot where we expected the birds to be flying to and spread out leaving about 50 yards between each of us.
As the sun began to rise, we started seeing a couple birds here or there. We killed a few and had about eight birds between the five of us by 8 AM. The outfitter drove up a few minutes later to see how we had been doing. He told us, “Don’t worry. They will be flying here…” then he looked down at his watch, “…in about 8 minutes.” Sure enough, like clockwork, the doves started swarming 8 minutes later.
They were flying in flocks of 50 to 100 birds at a time. There were so many birds weaving in and around each other that it was like looking at a school of fish. It was hard to pick out a single target there was so many birds! Once they started flying like that, we were all able to quickly take our limit for the day within the hour. There was so much action the first day that I neglected my picture taking and vowed to be better about it the next day.
Once we had picked up all our spent shotgun shells, cleaned our birds, and packed the truck we headed back to the hotel all before noon. We spent the rest of the day, eating, sleeping, and watching a little college football followed by another evening of telling stories, drinking, and smoking cigars.
On Sunday, we decided to sleep in and hunt the evening instead of the morning. We packed up and got into the field around 3:30 PM, which was a little on the early side, but we wanted to make sure that we got a good spot in the field.
We had scoped out a spot the previous day that we observed a lot of birds were flying towards. We set up in the area, again spread 50 yards apart. Boy was it hot! Getting there in the hottest part of the day was the only drawback to doing the evening hunt.
We all took shelter from the suns penetrating rays in any shady spot we could find. Most of us were posted up under trees on a fence line. We missed a lot of doves early on this way, because by the time they would fly over the tree line and we could stand up with our shotgun, they were too far away for a shot.
Throughout the day, we had lots of birds flying over. The problem was that they were flying very high. So high that it was rare to be able to hit one. Most of the time we wouldn’t even shoot at the high flyers, because it would just be a waste of ammo.
By about 6 PM the hunting really started heating up. It wasn’t quite as good as it was the day before, but there were still tons of birds. The birds started flying lower and in larger flocks. Craig limited out, then Mr. Blake, then me, then Tom, and then Dad finished up strong.
Two days in a row we all took a limit of birds. We were all thrilled! It couldn’t have come at a better time either, because we were hot, sweaty, and ready to get out of the field. Again we cleaned our birds, packed the truck and headed for the hotel.
The last night of the trip is always a little bittersweet. We usually sit around and talk about all our favorite moments from the weekend and what we want to do differently next year wishing that the weekend would last for a month. We usually only get to do this one bird hunt each year, so it is sad to think that we have to wait until next September to do this again.
The next morning we packed up and parted ways with Mr. Blake and we headed for Houston. When we arrived home we couldn’t resist cooking up a few doves before we all went back to our own homes. Mom and some of the girls met us at my parents’ house and they had already bought the jalapenos, cream cheese, and bacon!
What a great way to end an amazing weekend. Hopefully it won’t be our last dove hunt of the year, but even if it is, we had enough fun to last the year. I’ll never forget times like this and this tradition is something that I can’t wait to share with my future children.