In the 1970’s, one of our favorite dove hunting spots in Arizona was south of Phoenix on the St. John’s Indian Reservation. Back then, a hunting permit was a whopping $5.00 and like $10.00 for a family and this allowed the hunters access to some great mourning dove, plus real good quail and, believe it or not, some good duck hunting.
One of the best spots on the reservation was along an irrigated, grain field, the north edge bordering on thick brush that the doves were using as a roost and rest area. This particular Saturday afternoon, we, my family and the Schroder’s, had decided to combine a dove hunt along the edge of the brush and, after the hunt, a cook out in a clearing fifty yards in. The afternoon sun was to our right and the birds flew south to north, coming out of the field and flying right over us, providing easy head on, or quartering, shots.
Head on’s are easy. Track the bird, cover it with the muzzle, fire and follow through. The bird flies right in to the shot string, usually providing a clean kill, then falls near the shooter. Not having to walk around much in the sun means a lot on a hot September day in Arizona! Quartering shots are a little different, just be sure to get the right lead and then bang away!
The afternoon flight was just beginning, scattered shots coming from our four shooters strung out along the edge of the field. On my first shot, a quartering one, I knocked down a dove that was just loafing along, not flying anywhere near max speed, but soon, with all the shooting the birds picked up their pace considerably! With the doves pouring over us, we kept banging away. Before long, with the temp over a hundred, combining this with all of our shooting, our barrels started heating up. Just load up and keep shooting, but don’t touch the hot part.
One bird away from my limit, I looked up and here came one heading right over me, an easy head on shot. Tracking the bird and firing, puff, a clean hit and the bird rocketed straight for my chest. Holding my shotgun with my right hand and holding up my left, I was going to be real cool and catch this one, one handed, but at the last moment the dove gained a little lift rising over my outstretched hand and smacked me right between the eyes, knocking me over!
The force of four ounces traveling at, I guess, 35 MPH, applied right between my eyes, was a wallop. Getting up and looking through my broken shooting glasses, covered with mine and the dove’s blood, I saw that, besides being shot, the bird had a broken neck. However, the dove got his revenge, but $100.00 later for a new pair of shooting glasses, I wasn’t to be deterred, and soon, my next free afternoon found me back on the reservation.
After cleaning the birds, we washed up, grilled the steaks and along with green chilies and onions almost had a feast. After dinner, Jake looked over at me and, with a straight face, asked, “Beech, you went down real easy, think you have a glass forehead?”