In the last days of summer, 1974, Tommy Walker, my friend and former manager, and his wife, called from Houston and said they were coming out to Arizona the next weekend to hunt some doves. This was an exciting event because Tommy, this past hunting season, had been accidentally hit by a blast from another hunter’s shotgun, took several pellets, #8’s, in one of his eyes and, blessedly, was healed now and ready to go hunt some more! My, two part story, January 13, 2010, part 1 of “[Walking Wounded]” and part 2, on [January 15, 2010], describes this event. Also, Tommy assured me that they would be wearing shooting glasses too.
Three, plus, weeks into the dove season, our best bet was to drive down toward Picacho Peak, turn left off of I-10 and drive toward Florence and then follow the signs to the Lake Picacho area, find a flyway and have a go at some white wings. Before sun up, thank goodness no traffic, we left my Paradise Valley home and made the one-hour trip. During the drive down, we discussed the safest method of hunting these birds, only shoot at birds passing over and don’t shoot at low flyers, no matter how easy or great a shot it is!
We didn’t find a flyway, but found a grain field the big birds were feeding in and set up along a line of mesquites. The white wings were feeding then flying over us towards the lake to water. Good action! A lot of white wings and we were the only hunters using this field!
Tommy was to my immediate left about fifty yards away and our wives were on the other side of both of us. We were about half way from our limits and I turned and looked at a low flyer between Tommy and me, just as he turned and let go with his twenty gauge, Superposed. He was using a “hot” reload with one ounce of number 8’s and before I could turn my back to him, my shooting glasses were hit and I felt a sting below my right eye. I was shot, not bad, but thanks to the shooting glasses, my eyes were spared!
Many times I have turned my back to a shooter and been “peppered” with bird shot, but this time it was different. With Tommy’s hot loads and him being relatively close to me, one shot had nicked me, bringing blood and as I rubbed where it hit, I could feel it still embedded under the skin. Yelling over to him, “Don’t shoot the low flyers!” His reply was, “Sorry, the bird came in so fast, my only reaction was to shoot at it.”
Increasing the distance between Tommy and me, soon we had our limits. Back at the truck, cleaning the birds, Tommy looked at me and said, “You have some blood under your eye, did you run into a mesquite. Good thing you had your shooting glasses on!” Under my breath I replied, “Amen!”