Louisiana Dove Hunting -Just Plain Hunting Fun
By John Simeone
“Peshuss, Peshuss, and Peshuss again”….
There is a six sense that older hunters develop but never talk about and that is knowing the exact time to go hunting. It comes with age and experience, while getting someone to understand such things in this day and age, may be somewhat of a chore. It is a natural thing that you can taste in the wind, the slight cooling of the earth, however so slight. It ripens the milo in the field, and causes the goat weed pods to open and drop their seeds. The doves know this instinctively, and so do the older dove hunters who can feel this in the air. It is the true September Song, for now is the time we put a little extra effort in the work that we do so there will be no problems back at the job when opening day rolls around.
There were no birds in the field near Deridder Louisiana, three weeks before opening day, but my spider senses knew there would be, a field of about 800 acres of milo, which back home we call a “maze patch” stood tall and ripe. I thought to myself “They will harvest this and the doves will love it.”
Three days before the season opened Aunt Sandy and I returned for the second research mission. As usual, I was right, the birds were there and we sat for half an hour, watching them. “Their wings whistle, you know,” trying to be poetic in my instruction, but she didn’t care. Sandy was pointing her finger at every bird that flew by and had it been the Remington she would have sacked up a quarter million in fines blasting forked tailed fly catchers, blue birds, mocking birds and one low flying buzzard. Instead of saying “Bang” she had a cute way of making gun sounds, kinda hard to explain, like a child playing cops and robbers for the first time. Peshuss! Peshuss! I think would be the proper spelling, but I’m not the editor. Later that night she was still shooting doves in her sleep, Peshuss, Peshuss, and Peshuss again with no end to her ammunition in her dream. Imagine a woman that was terrified of guns only a year before, now anticipating open day so much she is shooting doves in her sleep.
The sixth sense caught the anticipation in the voice of Claudette Oliver my counterpart outdoor writer from the American Press Newspaper in Lake Charles. She had the fever no doubt about it, just like Sandy, manifesting itself in endless female yakking, don’t you just love it. When Sandy and Claudy get together it will be a riot. I thought of Hemingway, Ruark, O’Conner and now me the bad boy outdoor writer of Louisiana, I guess they all had their lady friends in the field from time to time, don’t think I’ll get much shooting in but what the heck. Do I compare myself with those great writers of yesteryear, well of course I do, what’s wrong with a few delusions of grandeur just before opening day.
Dove hunting is the only hunting you can really call a social event. It goes back to the days of royalty and we had that to, in sort of a Native American way. My good buddy Mike Womack is a real Cherokee Indian and his mother Jackie just happens to be the Chief, believe me I’d rather hunt with Mike than the Prince of Wales any day.
Opening day found us all in the field way too early to shoot, as in Louisiana the season doesn’t start till noon. This gave all the hunters a congregation time to get to know old friends, make new ones and stake out a good spot. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries were on hand to tell us the boundaries of the public dove hunt take wing samples and collect the ten dollar fee which was certainly worth it.
Just about any place you could find a shady spot was a good place, my choice was an old farmer’s junk pile at the edge of the field and once again my strategic dove calculator indicated this was the spot for the dove blind, but not until I fixed one problem. It would seem Claudia couldn’t find 16 gauge shotgun shells and had arrived bullet less. Well no problem, I produced a fine Stevens 411 which is really a Fox double ejector and whipped out the choke box and installed Full and Modified, we always have extras in case somebody comes up short or has a breakdown with the gun. Claudia was happy.
The dove blind complete with one Wal-Mart dove decoy was a sight to behold, looking more like a homeless person’s lean to, and not a very good one, but it fit so well with the rest of the junk pile, it was perfect camo.
We all moved in, and seemed quite content with our Hobo existence until the noon sun came out and began to roast us alive. Mike and I both had desert and artic experience so when I saw the girls and the dogs get a little droopy from the heat; I took drastic action and pulled up “White Thing” my club cab fully loaded Ford pickup with the leather seats. Ok get in the truck, yea the dogs too. I don’t befriend someone and leave out his hunting dogs, and by the way those Boykin Spaniels of his are something else.
Described as the “The Dog that doesn’t rock the boat,” because of his small size, these dogs do it all, flush; point, retrieve, and can find anything from a dove to a ten point buck. Mike’s dogs have already done all this, but this was the first time I got to see the Boykin Spaniel in action.
We sat in the air-conditioning until the sun went behind the clouds and the doves started flying. We just got back to the blind and the truck backed out of the area when the rain came. It went from about 110 degrees to about 68 in about 10 minutes. Still, not too many birds, but we weren’t hot anymore being soaked to the skin. We shot at a few but to no avail. Then two came in from the rear and I happened to be looking up, and caught one with a load of number 8s on the second shot. Now we got to watch the Spaniels retrieve the bird, while Claudia got her “money shot” for the American Press, with the camera.
They steal the limelight of the shooter you know, because they are so cool. They go from spoiled rotten lap dogs to super hunters the minute the tail gate drops. Of course Mike is a true “Dog Whisperer” and I found that this particular breed is so loveable they’re “chic magnets as well.” Mike said his main goal is to never lose a downed bird as the Boykins alleviate this problem in fine style.
As a demonstration, a hunter out in front of us lost a bird as it sailed into heavy cover after the shot. A mere voice command from Mike and a Super Spaniel charged in the underbrush and got the bird, later to return to be spoiled rotten some more. Hey what about the cool sharpshooter?? Hey, I got two did I tell you..
Well I have been on more productive dove hunts over the years but never have I had so much fun as I did with Aunt Sandy, Claudia, Mike and the Spaniels. No matter what the degree of experience doves will humble you, so realizing this, you find that this part of hunting is more about just having fun than anything else…Pass it on
About John Simeone
- John was instrumental in the legalization of the crossbow when he wrote a fact finding mission for Senator John Smith of Vernon parish, which led to the crossbow inclusion for all hunters in 2008. Most recently John took up the cause of handicapped hunters with “The Way Outfitters” as their outdoor writer. Learn More About John Simeone