There are several dove fields at Sandy Mush and a little pre-hunt scouting on the Sunday afternoon before my Monday morning hunt gave me all the information I needed to select the spot to hunt. Knowing that a lot of local folks like to hit the fields on Labor Day, getting there early in the morning to get that spot would be critical. So bright and early Monday morning I left the house to arrive well before legal shooting time of 6:38 a.m. It was a long walk from the parking area to the field but my early arrival paid off. In the pre-dawn darkness I set out the dove decoys in the middle of the cut winter wheat and checking the wind, placed the Mojo Voodoo Dove motion decoy downwind for landing among the decoys. I could only see a couple of more hunters at the other end of the field.
As the early morning fog lifted, single birds started to come into the field offering an occasional shot and bird in the bag. The action really started to heat up around 7:30 a.m. as groups of dove flew in low over the field, at times making it difficult to select one target to shoot. This is when I noticed a problem. There was no one in the field to my right and birds were landing on the power lines about 100 yards away. And not just one or two singles, but 30-40 birds would be roosted there at a time. So over the next hour I would occasionally walk down to that end of the field to scare the birds off the wire and get them flying.
I’ll spare you the blow by blow account, but by 9:00 a.m. I was at the truck with a 15 bird limit getting ready to head home to clean them and put them in the freezer. The repetitive walks down the field to get birds off the wire took its toll on this old man’s body. After getting home and cleaning birds, I was exhausted and just had to rest for the remainder of the day. It was well worth the effort though. I’ve not experienced dove hunting action that fast and furious in probably ten years.
That successful hunt was followed by another foray on Wednesday morning before going in to work. This time my setup was at the end of the field near the power lines that attracted so many dove. Again action was frantic once birds started coming into the field. I had to leave at 8:15 a.m. to go to work but had six birds in the bag and feel confident had I remained a limit would have been in the cards. A friend who was also in the field called me about 10:30 a.m. and told me he and another hunter had gotten their limit.
A cold front moved in this past weekend which may affect dove behavior, maybe even pushing them out of the area. If not, thanks to the efforts of the WRC staff, Sandy Mush should offer good, if not great, dove hunting for a couple of more weeks. Permits are no longer required after the first week and hunting is allowed only on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
Hopefully when you read this we will have some geese in the freezer. Geese haven’t been coming into the fields the first week of the season but suddenly started showing up for their morning feeding earlier this week. I hate to say this but I think I’ve got them patterned (that’s usually a jinx), and have a plan to go after them. They have been able to foil my plans in the past, so we’ll just have to see how things go this season. The main thing: Hunting season is here!