Okay, lets start off the 2005 season.
This page officially kicks off my journal of events for the 2005-hunting season. After work today, Wednesday August 31, 2005 at 6:30 PM, I visited a dove field that I was fortunate enough to be drawn for the shoot on opening day. The field is located on one of the many Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Georgia and is one that I frequent every year if I am lucky enought to be selected in the quota hunts. Luckily for me the bow hunting is not quota and is open. I usually like to bow hunt here because it is only 30 miles from my house.
The first picture is actually of some dove flying in. In all, for the one hour I was there I saw maybe a hundred birds or so. Not too bad, but the quota shoot is for 100 shooters. however, there are two fields with this one the smaller of the two so it may not be too crowded. I don't know how many birds were actually there before I arrived because when I started glassing the field I noticed that there was someone else there scouting too. The only difference was that he was a big guy wearing a bright pink shirt and he was walking through the middle of the field. He may have spooked many birds that I did not see prior to my arrivial. However, the end of the field that I was standing on looked promising.
If I do shoot this field on opening day, one thing I'll have to consider is timing. Every year that I've been drawn to shoot this field, or even befor it became a draw shoot, you had to get there by 5:00 AM to have a chance at your spot. Actually some people go in on the Friday night prior and set up so they can get their spot on the field. I know it is still the same so I need to consider how I want to handle this.
I still have another field to look at that I can shoot. It is about 30 acres and I know there will be far less people on it. It is a millet field and last time I looked at it wasn't cut yet. I'll ride out to it tomorrow and then post my findings. For now, that is all I have on the dove fields.
I took a few shots of the field itself and then a few close up shots of the burned wheat. Looking at the wheat on the ground you can understand why the birds are coming in. The only problem is that these are local birds and not migratory. The way it happens on this shoot, as I've experience in the past, is after the first volley of shots the birds leave. Likely they go to another field that isn't being shot on opening day and hang out.
Thursday September 1, 2005 I looked at another field in Marion County or let me say I tried to look at it. It wasn't on the road as I thought, but behind a locked gate so I couldn't see it. I did hear and see a few birds fly over the road and was able to catch a glimpse of the field from the road. I looked to sorghum. Because I couldn't scout it the way I like, I decided to shoot the WMA filed.
I called my friend in Florida and told him the plan. Due to the high gas prices and what was going on in LA with Hurricane Katrina, he decided not to come up to shoot.
Friday September 2, 2005 I left work at 5:30 PM and reached the field at 6:00 PM to pick my spot. You are allowed to set up the day prior to the shoot. When I got there I didn't have much of a choice on where to set up. Twenty or more people had been there already and set their blinds and chairs. I picked a lonely prisimon tree near the check station hoping that the birds would swing by me as they exited the field. Friday night I found myself gathering up all my dove supplies and getting ready for the next day's shoot. I was up until 12:30 AM trying to make sure I had everything, but what do you need besides a shotgun and shells. I was packing a cooler with drinks, ice, snacks and so on. I dug out a few decoys, I got my shells out, I even packed a change in clothes in case it rained on me.
Saturday September 3, 2005 Opening day. I got up at 4:30 AM to shower and get ready. I left around 5:15 AM and was there by 5:45 AM. I was thinking it got light at 6:00 AM, but it doesn't get light until 7:00 AM so I was there an hour early. You may be asking yourself, why so early if the season doesn't start until 12:00 Noon on opening day. Well, sometimes you have to guard your spot so others won't move in too close to you. I had no problem with this, actually the field was covered very well and I never saw anyone too close to each other.
As I waited for others to arrive the first guy I say came in and was one that I had met the evening before as I was setting up my blind. He'd asked if I had camped out there. We had a good laugh when I told him I thought it got light at 6:00 AM. As people rolled in, there were a few that recognized me from previous years of shooting out there. Other I met for the first time and we had a good time just talking hunting. When the area's Tech came in I talked with him for a little while and then I started carrying my shells and other stuff out to my spot. As I was putting my shell down a bird flew in and landed in the tree above me. I was ready.
At noon I was hid in the shade of the trees just twenty yards behind my spot in the field and there is where I stayed for a while. I actually dozed off and awoke to the shout of "BIRD!" and opening my eyes just in time to see the bird pass behind the tree I had my blind on and three decoys sitting in. I pulled up and as it came around, I shot. The first shot knocked feathers out, but it didn't fall. The next shot may have missed completely and the bird flew on out of the field. One guy close by said he thought it fell back in the woods but it was gone.
Around 3:00 PM it started clouding up and gave some relief to the hot sun in the 90-degree heat of the day. By 4:00 PM birds started entering the field exactly where I thought they would and the guys there had a gauntlet set up. Birds coming in from that direction didn't survive for long. If they did, they flew directly across the field and I was sitting on the end watching them fly from left to right. I didn't get to shoot much and I only got one bird. The guys in the middle of the field racked up and they were the ones that were there at 6:00 AM Friday morning setting up their blinds. It pays to do the scouting and being aggressive. They picked their spots well. They had mentioned to me that they had done that last year and had a lot of success. It looks like it paid off for them again. I ended up giving them my lowly bird to add to their harvest.
The area Tech was collecting a wing from each harvested bird and when I came out I held up my decoys and asked if he needed to take a wing form them. He got a good laugh out of it and we talked a little more about next weekend shooting and about SEC football and just good general stuff. I told him I'd likely be back next Saturday to shoot and set up a bow stand. He asked if I was going to round up a kid for the youth hunt out there and I told him I needed to do that. If I don't do it this year I will definitely try that next year.
Well, that's my opening day. It is Sunday now and I need to get to the camp as we have rented a Bobcat to clears some of the areas for food plots and the guys are up there working while I am typing this. I'll leave here in a minute and collect some more entries for my Journal. This will be on the deer hunting page.
September 10, 2005 I went by another field in marion county today. I didn't arrive until 6:00 PM and there were only twelve other people on the 30 plus acre field. I moved on to the back side and was able to shoot the first bird that flew over me. I had several other shots, but no birds. There were a lot of birds flying over and a lot of shot taken in the hour I was there. I enjoyed myself so much that I am planning on going back on the 17th.
Well, on September 17th I did not get up and go deer hunting, but opted to stay in and work on the web a little. Unfortunately what I found was a friend's discussion board web site had been hacked in the early morning hours. He was out of town and I was an administrator for the site. Me and another Administrator worked quickly to get the site back up and running. It took me until about 3:00 PM to finally feel satisfied that we had it complete and usable although several discussion forums were now gone.
I left for the dove field I had shot last week. Once there at around 5:00 PM the DNR tech was sighting in her Mathews bow. We talked shop for a bit and then I went on to pick a spot on the field. There were maybe a dozen folks shooting on the field I had been on last week. I decide to position myself on the opposite side of the wood line that separated the two fields. I was actually catching the birds before they hit the field with all the shooters.
To put it in perspective, imagine a clover pattern with the leaves as fields and the space in between them as woodlots. Everyone was on the top lobe and blasting away. There were a few people positioned kind of in the center where the lobes would meet. I took a left and headed up the wood line in a field with standing corn and some sorghum to my left the woods to my right and the shooter field 60 to 70 yards through the woods to my right. Once I got to the end I set up in the shade of the trees between the two fields staying close to the field that no one was on.
There obviously was no one on the shooter field close to where I was as I heard not shots or talking. Within seconds I shot a dove coming off the heavily hunted field. In all I was able to shoot fifteen to twenty times and ended up with four birds. Wasn't too bad for about two hours of shooting. Definitely a good field to shoot and I look forward to shooting it again next season. Now it is time to focus on deer hunting.
Created: August 31, 2005
Updated: September 27, 2005