Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wish I were out with them.

Early September morning in North Texas. The gold of the sun contrasts like pyrite against the lapis lazuli sky, on this, the first morning after the hurricane churned past. The breeze is from the north, and it dries the streets and the dewy ground quickly. There are gunshots in the distance, and as usual, the radio crackles with hunter complaints.

It's dove season.

Noticing a couple of flights of mournng dove over the new-ish housing development near the edge of town, I begin to motor over toward the pastures at another frontier of my jurisdiction, improbably far from my position to be the source of the pops. But the north wind on a quiet morning does in fact blow the sound of the shotgun reports a good long way, and I find the hunters' pickups parked at the back end of a new housing development that's built of ghost streets to nowhere, without houses or landscaping or even street signs. A line of round hay bales denotes the edge of the large meadow next to the development. Out of habit, I stop and run the plates, in case I get a call later.

In the distance, I see a camouflaged man walking toward me, unloading a shotgun and putting his shells in his belt pouches. It's a nice gesture, but he doesn't have to do it; I know he wasn't hunting on the road, and I've never been afraid of a sober hunter who minds his muzzle, as he's now doing.

"You doing any good?" I ask out the window of my cruiser. I don't bother getting out of the car because I don't want to hold the man up. It's coming up on 8:00AM, and this is the Golden Hour for morning bird hunting. I also don't want to give the impression that I'm here to give him any trouble. Getting out implies that I'm here to do just that, or at least give him more attention than he might prefer.

"Aw, I got a few. Three dove, and a couple of pigeon. Dad says they're worth eatin', but I don't know," he answers as he extends his hand to shake mine. "Henry."

"Matt," I respond, shaking his hand. "You're dad's right. Look in the craw of those feral rock doves, and you'll see that they're eating the same stuff your mourning dove and white wing dove are eating, but with three times the meat per bird."

"Yeah, and there's no limit on 'em. I know that. They're meatier, to be sure. I have to hit them a bit closer in than the dove," he answers.

"With that 20 gauge, I don't believe I'd try to bring them down further than those hay bales, I say, pointing to the line about 20 yards away,"unless I were carrying bigger shot than 8 shot."

"I reload, and these shells hold an ounce and an eighth of #6 shot," he says, with a grin.

"Then I formally withdraw my previous comment," I say, laughing with him. I consider making some worry-wart comment about being wary of excessive pressures, and realize that it would be foolish. I don't know much about shotshell reloading, and I've no way to know his experience level with the skill, and I'd be a little peeved if some Johnny Law took it upon himself to question my own careful efforts at reloading rifle and pistol cartridges, without any evidence of ineptitude. For alll I know, this guy's a master. I grin inwardly, and let my unnecessary warning die in my throat.

Instead, I ask him if the choke is a Modified, and he glances at the barrel to report that it is. He's thus well-suited to the long-range passing shots that he gets in that half-section field he came out of.

About this point, a flight of dove comes over, and I point to them. He laughs and reminds me that he's unloaded. I suggest that he step a few steps off the newly-poured road right-of-way and reload, lest we be overcome by attacking migratory game birds. He looks around and asks if I thought that the new concrete streets would count as roads that he couldn't hunt from. I nod and admit that they probably are, and point out where the right-of-way is.

I ask him whose land he's hunting on, and he shows me a card for the lease he's signed on to, which includes the meadow. Wow. I never had a printed card from any land that I hunted on. A few times, I've carried a quick permission notice signed onto a scrap of paper. Once it was a napkin. I wave it away when he offers to hand it to me, and point out another bird flying the tree line a hundred yards distant.

"I don't want to keep you," I say. "Good luck and good hunting, sir."

"You too," he says. We both chuckle as we simultaneously admonish the other to "be safe."

I haven't driven a hundred yards away before I hear the bark of his Wingmaster. I turn to see him already walking to pick up another bird, as two more do aerobatics to fly away from him.

Wish I was out there with him.

I log a note on my clipboard, and move on.

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6 Comments:

At Monday, September 15, 2008 3:30:00 PM, Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

Speaking of doves...remember what we talked about?

I'll be off the week of the 22-28, and in your neighborhood to boot.

Holla.

 
At Monday, September 15, 2008 8:59:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

I really hope to make it out to the woods a few times this year. I have only been out (literally) once since the season you joined us.

 
At Tuesday, September 16, 2008 10:08:00 PM, Anonymous jimbob86 said...

Our dove season started the 1st up here. We did not get a lot of birds, but Eldest (12) folded her first dove with her first shot. I had missed that bird twice.....

 
At Wednesday, September 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Hmmm, Peter mentioned "pigeon pie."

 
At Wednesday, September 17, 2008 2:16:00 PM, Blogger Farm.Dad said...

Good on yourself . You did just as an Officer of the Law should have . In some past years ( when i drove " your " car ) i have run up on folk from hunting through field dressing deer. Never was an armed hunter a real concern to me and the younguns can be absolutely entertaining . If i cant be hunting myself , and jurisdiction allows well a quick spot check of where is " hot " is both a public safety issue , and a help for me for the meager off duty hour i might accrue . I have to point out tho that i disagree ( tho i dont live in your state ) that the " non developed and only paved streets " area would qualify as a public roadway . Think about it for a minute , tho there are no barricades preventing folk from entry , well there is not to a " paved pad " i have on my land either . Unless and until folk live there, its not a public road , and as such has the same rights and obligations of any other private property. Now once folk buy a house or two , well common sense alone rules you dont shoot from the road . At the close of the " contact " tho You did yourself ( and your profession ) proud

 
At Wednesday, September 17, 2008 2:43:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Farm Dad, as soon as the City Council voted to make the platted streets part of my city streets, they became a public roadway. I agree that it would be asinine to enforce the law, but I shouldnt be encouraging the actual breaking of a law that is on the books in black letter law. :) The game wardens get kind of low on their sense of humour about breaking laws about the taking of migratory game birds. ;)

 

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