September 1st, 2021
Our 2021 hunting season started off September 1st for Dove. For the most part that is usually the start of our hunting season. It is a tradition that was started way before our adventures together started. A tradition that I have loved the first time Don took me out. And every year we have brought new people that are just getting into hunting to join us in what we love. On August 31st we headed to our favorite place in the Arizona desert along the river and spend two days with our family and friends. Checking into the hotel there are signs greeting hunters, “Welcome Hunters. Bird cleaning stations are set up in the back of the hotel for you. Breakfast will be served from 3am to 9am. Enjoy your hunt.” The next day, September 1st Dove Opener starts a few hours before first light. As we make our way down the hallway of our hotel we are greeted by excited hunters of all ages ready to start their season. We grab breakfast while everyone in our group is making their way to the lobby. Once we get everyone together we head out into the dark morning. Looking out into the vast darkness small headlights sparkle in the distance as hunters begin to arrive in their spots along the farm fields. We turn down a dirt road known to all of us with a run down house as the marker and make our way to our spot crossing our fingers no one else has beat us there.
Once we get to our spot the excitement is building. We all start getting ready; bug spray, sun screen, and bird vest on. Shot gun, ammo, and chair out. Now we wait for the sun to rise and the birds to fly. The sun slowly starts to wrap its orange rays around the mountains in the east. The morning silence is broken as you hear the click of the shells going into the shotguns. In the distance a shotgun goes off. Everyone is ready. The guns are loaded, heads are looking in the air, and everyone is listening, hoping to hear the flutter of the doves wings. “COMING DOWN THE LINE,” someone yells. Doves are flying, Game on! Guns are in the air and shots are flying as groups of dove fly in from the river over the fields. All morning you hear “My Bird” as each hunter collects their birds as they drop in front of them. As the morning quickly heats up the birds slowly stop flying and by 10am everyone starts wrapping things up. We collect our empty shells, pack up our stuff, count our birds and start making our way to the river for some fishing and swimming.
We followed the dirt road to our spot on the river that we have grown to love over the years. Our spot is at the end of a wash and the dirt flows half way into the river giving us a place to park all the trucks and set up for the day. Everyone begins to set up easy ups, chairs and fishing poles. Then it’s time to cool off in the river. The place we set up has a current that rotates along the shore. If you get into that current it will slowly take you up river. Once you reach the next wash you swim to the middle of the river and it will take you back down to our beach, like a natural lazy river. The rest of the day is spent playing in the water, fishing for catfish and bass and cleaning our birds. As the day reaches to the afternoon everyone packs up from the beach and dries off. The bird vests and shotguns come out again and we head into the wash for the afternoon hunt when the birds fly from the water to go back to their roosting spots. As everyone picks a lane in the wash that was carved out from the years of monsoons and thunder storms we get one last chance to reach our limits. As the sun sets we all head back to our hotel to clean up and get some food. At dinner we enjoy the stories of hits and misses and playful crap talk to each other. Then after the night is done we head back to our hotel and get some sleep before we are back at it again for one more day of Dove.