SAN ANTONIO - It's almost like Christmas, except it's usually hot, and instead of unwrapping presents you're more likely to be unwrapping a new Mojo decoy or a case of shotgun shells.
Dove season is a family tradition for a lot of Texans. Some estimates put the number of dove hunters in Texas at more than 350,000.
It can be some of the most exciting and aggravating time you will ever spend in the field. Although there are no definitive numbers, most hunters will agree the average gun goes off five times for every dove that hits the ground.
On this day, I can honestly say we held pretty close to those numbers.
We got up at 5 a.m. and drove the hour and a half to Dilley, Texas.
Our host was Billy Hiner, with Hiner Ranch. My hunting partner is my wife's 25-year-old cousin Nathan Taylor. Our bird dog was my 8 and half-year-old son Garrett! Nathan is originally from Montana, but having a degree in mechanical engineering, when a Houston oil company offered him a job fresh out of college, he moved to Texas.
Over the past couple of seasons, I tried to get Nathan on a good dove hunt, but mother nature didn't seem to cooperate. One time we had torrential downpours. The next time the wind was averaging about 30 miles an hour. The last time, there weren't hardly any birds, which is really unusual for South Texas.
This time we hit the mother load!
We weren't out of the truck five minutes and the shooting started. We hurried to set up our decoys and the fun began. It's amazing how quickly dove will peel into a Mojo decoy.
It's also amazing how easy it is to miss a bird, 20 yards from you and you've just thrown hundreds of tiny pellets at it 3 times! I'm talking about Nathan of course; I was shooting an over-under. But it is funny how I had 2 and a half boxes of 20 gauge shells disappear before I had 15 birds on the ground.
We both ended up with our and Nathan drove us back to San Antonio with a big smile on his face. Several hours later as we sat around the table talking about the hunt, we filled our bellies with "Dove Diablos." There's not much more satisfying than spending a day in the field, furiously shooting, sometimes filling your game bag and others wondering 'How in the world did I miss that bird.'
(The recipe for "Dove Diablos"...cut the breast meat off the bone, cut jalapenos in half, remove the seeds, fill the jalapeno half with cream cheese, lay a half dove breast on the cream cheese, wrap it in a piece of bacon, stick a toothpick through it and grill...bbq sauce optional)
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