Dove season has opened by the time you read this. There are dozens of them here on Lightnin’ Ridge, feeding beneath the bird feeders, nesting and raising young and then watering at my pond just …
Dove season has opened by the time you read this. There are dozens of them here on Lightnin’ Ridge, feeding beneath the bird feeders, nesting and raising young and then watering at my pond just a hundred yards from my office window. I wonder how many newspaper and magazine articles I have written about doves and dove hunting? So many, I am sure, that I could compile a pretty good-sized book about the bird and hunting them over the years. Probably will in time, to follow my books on turkey hunting and duck hunting.
But I can’t see packing up my Labrador and my shotgun and driving to some grain field on public land and hunting them at daylight this year in September. In October maybe. Fishing is too good now to be standing in a weed patch sweating, swatting at mosquitoes and shooting doves that wing over some harvested wheat field so fast that a lot of my shot pattern goes where they was instead of where they is. Sure, they are good to eat, but pork chops and squirrels are better. In my early years I couldn’t afford pork chops, so there was more of an incentive to hunt doves and squirrels.
I prefer to hunt doves over small ponds in the evening just at sunset. I have done a lot of that. They swarm into my pond right now in the evening to pick up grit for their craw and to drink water. If you hunt with Labradors as I always have, pond hunting in the evening is rewarding because your retriever enjoys the swimming, and on a hot day, he doesn’t suffer, as he does out by some grain field. Three or four years ago, poor old Bolt got so hot and dry on a dove hunt he was lapping up a small bit of water from a mud hole, before wallowing in it just to cool off. Right then I said, ‘no more of this’! The dove season goes on through October so we just might go down to the pond a time or two and drop a few doves in the pond for him to retrieve… just enough to put on a spit and grill them.
But…. the teal season will open in a couple of weeks and they are big enough to go after. I just love blue-winged teal on the dinner table. I cut the breast meat into strips about the size of my little finger, roll them in flower mixed with Lawry’s seasoned salt and fry them. I have hunted teal a great deal over decoys, but my favorite way to hunt them is too float an a river with a blind on the bow of my johnboat, like I did many years ago with my dad. I set my shotgun beside me and fish as I drift along. Right after any kind of rain that raises the river a little, smallmouth, Kentuckies and goggle-eye really get active. But a few times on an 8- or 10-mile stretch of river, there will be a good-sized flock of teal, and they are not as wary as mallards. I will get some good shots at them when I see them before they see me, and perhaps I’ll bring home some of the spotted bass (Kentuckies) too. And if I go during the week, the rivers I float will have no one else but me to enjoy the peace and quiet. It is a great way to enjoy a world where men and their troubles aren’t found.
This week my friend and fellow fishing guide, Dennis Whiteside and I plan to take my pontoon camp-boat up a remote river or out on a lake. We will cover it and camp in it, a great place to sleep and eat. We will bring a fishing boat along, set some trotlines and bass fish late in the day and after dark. The rains that have come through the last few days should make fish really active, so I might have a good fishing story for next week’s column. September may be the month for a lot of things, but there are few times in the year when top-water fishing is better.
I couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Missourians who own 20 or more acres in a CWD zone (which most of us are) can kill ten deer on your land with free landowner tags. I pointed out that the Conservation Department wants your land registered with them, and this is an attempt to get hesitant landowners to comply. To make it even more enticing they will pay 60 dollars to you to get your deer processed. I said in that column that I didn’t think it included all ten deer. I was wrong! The state conservation department will pay you 60 dollars for each deer killed and processed by someone they approve-- possibly 600 dollars total. For more info call wildlife health specialist Alicia Burke at 573-815-7901 ext. 2898. If that doesn’t get you to register your land with them, I don’t know what you will do next. But for all of you who own 40 acres or less, in a few years this will all end, because they will only allow large landowners to get such permits. Small acreage owners will be required to pay for their deer… and the processing. BUT—you will still have your land registered in their computers.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613. My fall magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, will be printed this week. If you want to get a copy, call me at 417 777 5227 and I will pay the postage to get one to you.