Dove season is here, bringing the sights and sounds we expect every September: The sound of shotgun blasts; camo-dressed people in the restaurants, grocery stores, downtown shops, gas stations, and convenience stores; pickups parked along the edge of fields; trucks and trailers loaded down with UTVs and ATVs; and a general air of excitement. I love seeing several generations of one family enjoying the time spent together. It is so exciting to go to town and see all the activity.
One reason I love dove season is that it practically guarantees we will be seeing some cooler, wet weather. Every dove season seems to bring that early cold, wet front that drives the masses of doves away. Yes, it will get hot again before Fall REALLY gets here, but I will accept with gratitude any little bit of cool and rainy I can get.
My husband loves dove season because it is the de facto beginning of hunting season in general. Regular deer season does not begin until about two months later, but the opening of dove season marks the season of preparation for deer hunters. Look at the pickups and trailers in town on the weekends—they are loaded with deer blinds, feeders, bags of corn and protein feed, bags of seeds for food plots, barbecue grills, lawnmowers, travel trailers, and the occasional tractor and grain drill combo. Everyone is headed to the hunting lease to dove hunt morning and evening and to set up deer camp during the middle of the day. All of that hard work merits sitting around the campfire at night, waiting to eat those delicious jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, grilled dove breasts.
Dove are not plentiful in my part of the county, so I was surprised to hear shots yesterday while I was enjoying my morning coffee (and a cool breeze) on the front porch. After a few more shots, I realized I was hearing deer rifles being sighted in. Starting in November, the shot of a hunting rifle will be common. When my husband is away working, he calls me mid-morning and just after dark every weekend day to ask where I heard shots and if they sounded like hits or misses. If I report hearing nearby hits, then he assigns me to ask around about who shot what. Even though he works with some of the finest hunting ranches in the state, there is no thrill like a good harvest in Spring Creek for him.
I am very aware that there are those who think hunting is a barbaric blood sport and that people who want to eat meat should go get it from the grocery store. Those people have never experienced hunting the way I have. Hunting for me, and for most hunters, is a living tradition that involves family, fellowship, and appreciation for nature and the outdoors. I know of many "hunters" who faithfully head out to the deer camp at every opportunity but rarely hunt. While everyone else is out in the field, these hunters are enjoying the peace and quiet, reading a book while sitting in a lawn chair outside, stirring in the campfire, and maybe eating and drinking in a way that is forbidden in their real lives. It is their escape, and they gladly pay their lease money so they have a place for escaping.
Was that a shot I heard? I am happy to say, "Yes!" That shot marks the beginning to one of my favorite seasons of the year, hunting season. It also reminds me that I need to get busy making curtains for the beautiful tower blind my sweet husband gave me for Christmas last year! SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com