Chasing Dove: Humility and Triumph

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Labor Day weekend is over. I hope you took advantage of it. I spent the 72 hours celebrating the arrival of hunting season by attempting to pepper dove with a Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun and an inexperienced German Shorthaired Pointer.

I have to eliminate any hints of suspense and let you know most of the hours consisted of sitting in a field, beer in hand, looking at the sky, and attempting to keep my anxious dog at heel. But there were a few sparks.

The first was the surprise visit from a game warden. A figure of legend to most consistent hunters. Someone you hear about but never see. But I seem to be a magnet for them. This was my third run in with them in two seasons. A sign to grab a lottery ticket or take out a life insurance policy, I'm not sure.

I received a Class C citation for not having a plug in my pump shotgun. The plug limits the number of shells you can put in your gun. It was a crime of ignorance on my part. But ignorance isn't an excuse. I'll call the judge this week.

While it was a disappointing start, I still had hope for the day, and my dog. I've had my GSP for five years. I've done obedience training and as much "hunting" training as possible for someone with little to no access to proper resources. I even spent an unmentionable amount of money for professional boarding and training with dead end results. All in the name of me shooting a bird, and having Bella retrieve it, and bring it to me. No field trial ribbons or blood line tracking necessary. I had that simple goal. No, a wish. A romantic wish that I saw slowly drifting away with the passing of each season.

But it came true. It wasn't pretty or perfect. She was pacing in front of me like she had been all day. Unable to stand still, and unable to be quiet. With any movement or fire she would bark or whimper with anticipation. It was like all pieces of the puzzle were on the table and she was trying to put it together with every shot.

To her relief, and to that of my fellow hunters–who surely had to feel some sort of pity for the man with only a citation in his bag– I finally squared up a dove flying low coming across my face from left to right, I squeezed the trigger. Bella was already running towards the sound of the blast and met the bird as it hit the ground. She found it, sniffed it, and picked it up. I called her back and she started in. I left my chair and met her. She dropped the bird in front of me and revealed a wide grin as I patted her on the head.

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