It’s Texas, it’s August, and it’s hot. Stepping outside to go to work, the humidity is enough to make me consider going back inside. Anyone who has lived in Texas for any amount of time knows that August is a completely different animal. Just a year ago, I succumbed to the effects of the August heat and humidity while surveying a set of railroad tracks in Denton, TX. I made it back to my truck and asked my partner to drive me to the hospital. As gnarly and nasty as the month can be, there is a silver lining. September 1st, the opening day of Dove Season for the majority of the State of Texas, is the reward for surviving the month. The bounty of the season will not be given to you, it must be earned. The question is, will you be ready to capitalize?
Get Ready for Dove Season by Following These Steps
Start Your Scouting Now
We’ve got a month to get ready, so let’s get to it. First, let’s talk about where you’re going to be chasing birds. Private land or public land? Guess what, doesn’t matter. I’m going to throw a word out at you that you’re going to get so sick of hearing, you’re not even going to want to say it. SCOUT! Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it can be boring. But, when you do hit on an area, it’s all worth it. Private land can be easier to scout, that’s no secret. It’s managed property for the purpose of killing birds. Fields of sunflowers, maize, and corn are there for one reason, they attract birds. Those tree lines around those fields, they’re a highway for birds. Those power lines on and around the property, it’s an observation position for birds. On public land, you’re going to have to work a little more. Look for congregating areas after their morning push for food and water. If you happen to find an area with several tall, leafless trees, you may have stumbled upon a gold mine. A few years ago, I discovered such an area on a piece of public land that produced a daily limit for me and a friend of mine in less than an hour. In the evenings, look for areas where birds can easily get water before going back to roost for the night. Shore lines with no grass and littered with tiny bits of gravel are potential hotspots and should be extra special consideration.
Kick the Rust off of Your Shotgun
Next, let’s talk about the tool that’s going to get your through the season, your gun. What kind of condition is it in? Did you put it away after last season without cleaning it? Yeah, you know you did. Break that baby out, disassemble her, scrub her down, and lube her back up. That action cycling smooth, again? Good. Now get to the range and get her dirty. Skeet, Trap, or my personal favorite, 5-stand, is a great way to get your shot right. Maybe you’re brand new to this. Same rules still apply, know your gun inside and out. Spend some time at the range and work on your shot. Don’t get frustrated if your score isn’t on par with everyone else’s, you’re brand new to this. Ask for advice on certain shots that keep giving you problems. Remember, shoot where the bird is going to be, not where it is at that moment. Don’t stop swinging your gun when you pull the trigger, keep moving in that direction even after the shot.
Go Outside and Get Some Exercise
Finally, let’s go over your mental and physical conditions. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no physical specimen of health and that I’ve enjoyed my fair share of brews. But, the one advantage I have over most people is that I work outside every day of the week. My body is, for the most part, acclimated to the environment. My mental makeup of knowing what I’m going up against and what my limits are have been established from years of field work for 8–10 hours a day. I’m not saying you need to quit your desk job and go run power lines or roof houses for a living. But, spend some time outside before the season actually begins by reading yourself for the hours in the field. Take a walk after dinner while it’s still warm. Do some yard work after the cool of the morning has burned off. Or, go scout! (there’s that word again.) Seriously, walking up and down hills, crossing creeks, and pushing through tall grass to check out a few areas is a great way to get the blood moving and discover your own limits. Take breaks when needed, carry plenty of water, and keep your eyes open for moving birds.
Make Sure Your Permits and Hunting License Are up to Date
All the years I’ve been doing this, I’ll admit that I still have trouble going to sleep on August 31st. And I’m up without hesitation the morning of September 1. Like a kid on Christmas? You bet! I hope you are too, because this is what we’ve been waiting for! You’ve got your ice chest iced down, backpack loaded with boxes of shells, game plan for the spots you’re going to hunt, and your license. You do have your license, right? And all the necessary endorsements? If you’re hunting on a public land, you’ve also got your public land hunting permit, correct? If not, don’t fret. There are plenty of gas stations in these small rural towns that are selling licenses and endorsements before that first shot rings out, so you’ve got time. If you’re unsure, ask. Most of these people have sold millions of these things for years, so more than likely they’ll know what you need. Now, finally, settle into your hunting spot and get ready! For the birds? Well yeah, but take stock of what else you’re experiencing at the moment. Your friends and your family are there with you to enjoy the day and the action. Your dog, just as anxious as you are, ready to retrieve at a moment’s notice, wanting only to do a good job by your judgment and please you with their efforts. And check out that sunrise! You don’t see it dance spectrums of oranges, pinks, and reds like that everyday. That’s because it’s opening day! The greatest day of the year! Now, bust them 3 out front!
Article by Wade Ringo