October 23, 2011

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One week after returning from Alaska Katharine and I started school which usually means the adventures are put on hold or should be.  But for some reason this semester we are busier than ever, even though it’s our most challenging and last semester.

September 1st is opening dove season so I headed to Central California with Ken (co-worker) for a chance to knock down a few birds.  As with most bird hunting we were up and out in the field before sunrise.  Early morning dove hunting is similar to duck hunting where you sit and try to ambush the birds as they fly over head.  We positioned ourselves along a string of telephone poles in a harvested field, overlooking an orchard.  We waited patiently for the sun to rise and the birds to start flying.

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It was still a little dark when we heard the first shot from a group down the road.  Once the first shot is fired I have to smile a little bit since I know the next couple hours are going to be exciting.  I immediately started scanning the horizon just above the tree line.  My finger anxiously waiting on the safety.  Then like clockwork the sun hits the trees and the birds started flying.  I could see the fluttering silhouettes flying toward us, I flipped off the safety, gripped the gun, and waited for them to get closer.  I slowly raised the gun to my shoulder, stood up, put the bead in front of the bird, squeezed the trigger, BANG, the dove folded up and fell to the ground, I put the safety back on, got one!  I Lowered my gun, eject the shell and quickly load another, then walk out into the field and picked up my bird.  The suspense, thrill and camaraderie of hunting gets me every time.

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The last three years I’ve gone dove hunting with Ken and his dad and his two friends.  They are an entertaining group, which I wouldn’t expect anything less from a group of guys who have been hunting and fishing their whole lives.  The stories are endless and hilarious.  The highlight of the trip for me was hitting a true double, two birds with one shot, which has only happened to me while shooting clays not birds.

This was the first time I’ve actually tried to hunt and photograph at the same time.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought since the Cotton Carrier holds the camera close to my chest and out of the way when I’m mounting the gun to my shoulder.  It was a little challenging to switch and clean lenses in the field, but the hardest part was deciding when to put the gun down and shoot with the camera.  I didn’t get any action shots since when there were birds I was squeezing the trigger not the shutter.  Next time I need a better game plan, am I hunting or taking photos and when do I switch between the two?

It was a successful trip all of us getting our limit of 10 dove for the day.  I ended up making a dove marsala with mushrooms, onions, bacon, butter and wine.  The sauce tasted amazing but the dove was a little dry.  The recipe I was following called for an extremely long time to cook the dove, which I cut in half and still over cooked.  Maybe better luck next season.