|Happy to celebrate 11-year old Axel Gruber's First Dove on Jan.12|
Dove hunting season extends into the middle of January, outlasting the South Carolina deer season by a full two weeks. If maintaining a dove field to hunt is a marathon, then the final two weeks of the season is more like a sprint to the finish line. At one season finale hunt an 11-year old youth made a pretty passing shot on a dove, sending the grey bird on its rainbow arc descent to the ground with feathers flying. The youth let out a whoop over this rite of passage, resonating with all the wingshooters in the field.
|Capturing the moment with Uncle Charles Waring|
My longtime colleague CharlesWaring elected to bring his 11-year old nephew Axel Gruber of Charleston to the dove hunt. Gruber has been with his uncle on a deer drive before, but he had never been to a dove hunt and was eager to attend. The two hunters would share a stand in the field and Waring would mentor everything from how to use hearing protection and rising up to shoot his double-barrel 20-gauge shotgun. A lone dove crossed the field, flying past the powerline at his stand, and Gruber took his shot. The bird folded and finished well away from his position, which is a sign that the bird had some momentum. Julian Clark and myself echoed the youth's boisterous yell because we both had a clear view of the momentous occasion.
|Late season doves in the bag|
Gruber took advantage of this opportunity by harvesting his first dove on the last day of dove season, and just one month before his next birthday. It’s hard to believe I don’t recall the exact age when I shot my first dove, but I know that I was very young and that I was with my father, who took me dove hunting early and often. With decades of dove hunting notched on my belt now, I know that it takes much effort to prepare a dove field and that each hunt opportunity is a blessing.
We also had an 80-year old gentleman hunting with us that day. Any outdoor activity in life where people with a 70-year age range can participate together has merit. The older hunter doesn’t take a day in the field for granted, while the younger hunter often taps into a more heady experience of achievement. Traditions like these make Saturday afternoons during dove season extra special, and wingshooters will be counting the months until Labor Day restores them to the sporting calendar.
To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.
To view past blog entries about dove season opening click 2016- 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009