Top Dove.

Some of my Gentle Readers may not realize how important September 1 is.

It is the first day of Dove Season here in Texas, and for some, a fairly important minor religious holiday.

So, there I was, wearing the (State-mandated) 144 square inches of Daylight Orange on both chest and back,and the (State-mandated) Daylight Orange headgear, tucked contentedly into a nook in a mesquite tree-line.

In front of me, there was this lovely great patch of sunflowers — crack cocaine to doves — past that was a lake and behind me was not only a tree-line, but was also east.

The plan was that the doves would wake up, fly out of the trees towards the lake for a morning drink — crossing my line of fire — then, thirst slaked — would fly into the sunflower patch to break their fast — again crossing my line of fire and affording me the opportunity to blow the feathers off of the UN Symbol of Peace, prior to wrapping his little butt in bacon and searing him over a nice mesquite fire.

Now, since I am a County Employee, there is no way that I can afford a hunting lease. This limits my dove hunting opportunities to Public Land (see orange hunting requirements above), so I was fully cognisant that Reno and I would have a bit of company that morning.

When we had parked Reno’s truck, there were no other vehicles anywhere, and I heard nothing as I waited for the sun to come up.

Just as the sun crested the horizon, I heard the double-click from Reno’s radio, then the thump of his Mossberg 835 caused the first dove of the day to exclaim, “Holy [deleted], it’s September 1 already?!” just before performing a classic Split-S and becoming a brown Mach 2 streak at grasstop level.

Unfortunately, this brought him right past my location, and I’m catching up to him with the brass bead of my 16 gauge* when he pulls a batwing turn that should have been impossible without a G-suit …

… and I hear this voice on the far side of the dove yell, “Jeff, Jeff, Jeff — izzat a dove?!”

“Oh,” sayeth that little voice in the back of my head, “bugger.”

“Shootshootshoot!” shrieks the heretofore unseen Jeff.

I hit the dirt, finding myself nose-to-nose with a spider who — obviously a veteran of previous dove hunts — had all eight legs covering his head.


When the shooting died down, I cautiously peered over my comforting tree root as a cattle egret who had been circling overhead — smugly confident in his neutral status — dirt-darted into the ground about twenty feet away.

“Jeff, Jeff! I got his butt, Jeff!”

Down above the sunflower patch, the absolutely untouched dove snap-rolled and cut in the afterburner just above the tops of the flowers, leaving — I swear to God — petals tossing in his wake — as the world exploded.

There wasn’t that much ground-to-air fire above Baghdad.

Either time.

The dove went feet-wet over the lake and disappeared in the early-morning fog to the accompaniment of the Top Gun theme.

I spit out some grass, looked sideways at the spider and commented, apropos of nothing: “Sounds like the magazine plug law is more like a magazine plug suggestion around here.” The spider cocked a snook in my general direction and hurried off to the local air-raid bunker.

My radio crackled, Reno warbling: “It’s raining lead … Hallelujah! It’s raining lead … Amen!”

I hauled myself to my feet, checked my Remington Model 11, and wandered off to check my buddy. As I walked up, he cocked an eyebrow at me, took off his State-approved Daylight Orange ball cap and brushed 7 1/2 shot off of it.

“Didn’t we find a rule that says you’ve got to wear a certain amount of orange if you’re hunting on public land?”

I nod.

“Of the three thousand [deleted] hunters out here, how many orange vest you see?”

“Yours and mine.” I pause meditatively. “How many of those auto-chuckers have magazine plugs, you think?”

He snorts, “Yours.”

Long pause, as the gentle patter of falling 7 1/2 shots rustles around us.

“I’ll bet the catfish are biting out at Kickapoo.”

“You read my mind.”

So we took Reno’s wife and daughter out to the lake and caught fish on the opening day of Dove Season.


*That one, single statement has at least one reader in Denton County performing a Migraine Salute and mumbling something about my fascination with obsolete calibres. I can’t help it — I like the 16-gauge.

The Sergeant-Major
Operation Sauce Drop

51 thoughts on “Top Dove.”

  1. Ahhh brings back memories that does…
    First day of pheasant season, a line of six guys , two (at LEAST) carrying frickin 10 gauges with no mag plugs, and a lone pheasant giving them the finger as it flew on unscathed enjoying the screams of profanity in its wake…

    My dad and I couldn’t shoot for the next half hour because we were laughing too damn hard at those yahoos πŸ™‚

  2. LawDog, you just hit on why I don’t hunt. I can’t afford a lease and I value my life to much to hunt on public land.

  3. “That one, single statement has at least one reader in Denton County performing a Migraine Salute and mumbling something about my fascination with obsolete calibres. I can’t help it — I like the 16-gauge.”

    You’re not the only one. To my mind, it’s the perfect gauge. If only someone came out with a 3 inch chambering for 16 gauge, I’d never shoot anything else.

    So, a 16 gauge Remington Model 11, huh? Not bad. It’s a Browning Sweet Sixteen, without the price tag.

  4. I started dove hunting as a kid with my dad’s old single-shot 16 gauge. The old shotshell still warms my heart.

  5. I’ve shot many a dove with Grampaw’s old 1148 16 ga. It’s modified choke, which means that I’ve got to be a little better than I usually am to hit ’em with it. Add to that the fact that shells are a little scarcer, and it’s a late-season gun.

  6. “So, a 16 gauge Remington Model 11, huh? Not bad. It’s a Browning Sweet Sixteen, without the price tag.”

    Get out of my stinkin’ skull, AD! πŸ˜‰

  7. I miss dove hunting.

    I’m not a huge fan of eating them (never tried the bacon trick), but I was getting to be a decent shot. I was consistantly limiting out with under a box of (12 gauge) shells expended. Starting to get cocky, til the last dove hunt I went to – was sitting next to a guy shooting a single shot .410.

    He limited out with 13 shots. 11 of them were headshots, dropping the bird less than 10 yards from him.

    *waynes world bow, I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy*.

    Sorry to hear about the public issues. Luckily, I’ve always known people who had big invites for their dove hunts, where things were more controlled/less stupidity.

    The private range that my friend the Xman and I belong to has the rifle range below and downrange of the skeet/5-gun, etc fields. Both he and pdb have been out there with me, when suddenly there was a shot from above, and the familiar pitter-patter, and they were amazed that I just put on a cap and didn’t otherwise notice. Chalk it up to growing up (since I was 5!) going dove hunting every weekend… Shot? Oh, yeah, no biggie. Wear a cap. (They, and others there, where far more bothered by the lead rain).

    Hee. First year we were getting the Hunting Club going in a … small Southern County, some members went to the “County” hunt. They closed down the county airport, and shot over the runway and taxiways. (In case you’re not understanding what LD means about religion).

    They shoot their limit in under an hour, and are walking out. Everybody they pass asks what’s wrong, they said they limited out, and everybody says “Throw ’em in the truck! C’mon back!”

    Now, they didn’t want to start us off with the game wardens/powers that be as troublemakers, so they’re unshucking gear and such, when the county game warden (In uniform, with requisite sidearm) comes huffing by. “Whatsa matter, boys?” he gasps, tossing 12 dove into his car, and grabbing another box of shells.

    “Limited out, so we’re heading out”, replied our members. “Aw, hell! Toss ’em in the truck, and c’mon back!” he says as he starts to shamble back to the field.

    So they shrugged, and went back.

  8. This makes me very glad that all the dove shooting I’ve done has been on private land. Got 7 1/2 shot raining on me enough from my uncles’ shotguns.

  9. Reminds me of the first time my dad took me dove hunting. We were supposed to be the only folks there- got nestled in our spot, the sun came up and all of the sudden there were shots coming from here, there and everywhere. We belly crawled out of there, as 90% of the shooters didn’t seem too discriminate as to what they shot at.

    I was so happy when he finally bought his own 50 acre plot of land.

    Maybe next weekend will be better LawDog.

  10. 16 gauge. The epitomy of efficiency and grace embodied in the beauty of blued steel and lovingly polished wood.

    I first saw and fired a Model 12 in 16 ga when I was 15 years old. Shortly ago, when I was 65 years old, I saw my Model 12 in 16 gauge at a price I could afford at a time when I actually had the money in my pocket. Ignoring my stomach’s protest at a couple of months without lunches, I bought it on the spot. I am a happy shotgunner.


  11. Hey Lawdog and Everybody Else, I’m 33 years old and I’ve always liked 16guage too. The 16guage SxS I’ve shot did real well for me, I was able to do real well with it, but now too, I’m no wingshooter… I grew up more with the small game idea. The only thing I see wrong with 16guage is there ain’t enough people appreciating it and that drives up the price of ammo for those of us who do shoot it.

    My Daddy told me his father talked him out of buying a 10guage SxS when he was a teenager.

    (AD)”So, a 16 gauge Remington Model 11, huh? Not bad. It’s a Browning Sweet Sixteen, without the price tag.”

    I’ve had two or three Sweet Sixteens in my hands at different times. I agree that they’re quite fine guns. Now I’ll hafta remind myself in just a minute to check back on Gunbroker and see if I can find another Model 11.

    mustanger98 on THR

  12. “Gotta love huntin’ season shooters.”

    Yeah. Now that brings back my other train of thought… these days I mostly deer hunt during legally open season, but I’m not hunting on public land either. I don’t know how much is true, but I’ve heard some crazy crap… like when somebody told me some nut was running around south Georgia WMA’s shooting hunters where they sat in their tree stands. Some people beat all.

    I hunt on land my family owns. I also worry about people who don’t shoot other than to check sights and hunt… those half-a-box/year shooters- I don’t know whether some of ’em are incompetent or crazy.

    mustanger98… again.

  13. Rule #4! On opening day last year, I got pasted in the side/arm real good with low trajectory shot within first 10 minutes of legal shooting time. Close enough to sting. Knuckleheads.

    Hat, long sleeves, safety glasses and find a low spot to set up.

    I teach my son to back off a shot if he isn’t seeing horizon. More important things than missing a bird or bag limit.

    Still and all, I rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Teddy K.


  14. another 16ga fan here,

    been hunting dove w/ 16 ga since I started hunting w/ G’Pa’s Higgins in about 72.

    best Dove medicine ever devised.


    I do however perfer a sxs


  15. I am reminded of Tom Lehrer’s Hunting Song:

    I always will remember,
    ‘Twas a year ago November,
    I went out to hunt some deer
    On a morning bright and clear.
    I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow:
    Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.

    I was in no mood to trifle,
    I took down my trusty rifle
    And went out to stalk my prey.
    What a haul I made that day!
    I tied them to my fender, and I drove them home somehow:
    Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.

    The law was very firm, it
    Took away my permit,
    The worst punishment I ever endured.
    It turned out there was a reason,
    Cows were out of season,
    And one of the hunters wasn’t insured.

    People ask me how I do it,
    And I say “There’s nothin’ to it,
    You just stand there lookin’ cute,
    And when something moves, you shoot!”
    And there’s ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now:
    Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a pure-bred Guernsey cow.

    And sorry, but I can’t find a Youtube or MP3 rendition of the song which does not suck, so I’m not including one.

  16. Back when I was a kid, I could always tell it was opening day of dove season when the telephone lines out in front of my dad’s shop suddenly filled up with birds. Telephone lines just inside city limits, where no shooting was allowed.

    Birds aren’t dumb.

  17. My father bought me a Mossberg .410 for my 8th birthday and gave it to me a month early, just in time for Labor Day. Back in the bad old days, girls didn’t hunt, didn’t drive pickup trucks, and a whole lot of other don’ts,which I did. My father simply hauled me along with three of his hunting cronies on Labor day: Milt, Carl, and Early.
    My first hunt consisted of 1 rather mangled dove, a water moccasin, and several turtles. The men did a lot better, especially Milt. Milt was one of those extraordinary people with a great eye and lightning reflexes. He was standing up on the end of a cattle tank dam when a flight of doves headed straight toward him, low and right across the sights of another hunter, who, providentially had the sense not to shoot him. To everyone’s amazement, Milt laid his shotgun down, stood up, and snatched a low-flying dove right out of the air.
    The sight of that is one of those postcards of the mind that you store up and bring out once in a while. Greatest hunt I ever had.

  18. Y’know, Dog, I don’t see anything in the hunting regs about having a sidesaddle full of 00 Buck on the gun while hunting migratory birds.

    If you can track one down for Reno’s 835, you have to try the Federal 3.5″ magnum 00 on reactive targets. It can just nearly knock over an entire 150+lb plate rack (the rack itself, not just the plates) from 10yds if placed just right. Try that next time one of your buddies is bragging about his new body armor that can “stop a 12ga from 10ft.”

  19. My brother-in-law was hunting with his dad, uncle, cousins, and a bunch of the uncle’s clients/business associates at a little honey hole.

    The BIL was roughly 13 maybe 14 years old, and this was his first hunt with this group. Seems like one of the big money associates didn’t know/wouldn’t follow the 4 rules, and peppered said BIL. Being young, and not wanting to offend said clients, he mentioned rather more politely then I would have, to be careful he was hunting over there and that the last shot stung abit.

    Apologies around and everything was settled, at least until the next right to left crossing dove hit the afterburners. You guessed it, peppered again, and a bit harder this time.

    You heard a light curse, and a kid dusting himself off, and then the words that ended this side of the families hunting at said place “Mr. You shoot me one more GD time, and I’m shooting back, and I don’t miss nearly as often as you do.”

  20. “Try that next time one of your buddies is bragging about his new body armor that can “stop a 12ga from 10ft.””

    That reminds me of some of Bill Engvall’s “here’s your sign”… because… There’s only one way to test that, kinda like that sharkproof suit. “Here; hold my sign; don’t want to lose it.”

  21. This reminds me of laws in Missouri which forbid the carrying of a sidearm whlie hunting. ‘Nuff Said.

  22. Hmmm… this reminds me. Gotta renew my own hunting license, and gotta bring out the ol’ 16 gauge… Winchester 1897 from 1900.

    Haven’t taken any dove with it yet. I need to fix that.

  23. Fishing does sound a tad more relaxing than hunting. πŸ™‚ Glad you and Reno came out okay from your hunting trip.

  24. I thought 16ga was an East Coast caliber. Saw it around Philly area when I was a kid. Would have been nice to shoot that, or a 20ga, considering my 90lbs at 12yrs age. Unfortunately, my dad only brought home 12gauges. Think I used a different one every time we went hunting. My favorite was a bolt action, box magazine 12ga in left hand!(I’m a lefty) Unfortunately, couldn’t hit anything due to a bent barrel. That never came back. Years later I discovered that he considered everything I did to be competition with him, which explained why he saddled me with big gauges and heavy loads. A few years later, he had me deer hunting with a sporterized 8mm Mauser, instead of the more appropriate mod 94 30-30, sitting home in the closet.
    Topped out at a whopping 115lbs on 5’7″. Shoot a Benelli 12ga now, in fact took a 4day tactical course. Shot near 1600 rounds.(only 2 students) Old habits die hard, it seems!

  25. My ex brother-in-law, Mike, left his 16 gauge Remington for us when my folks and I moved to a quiet, secluded place away from the city. We quickly found a use for it — rattlesnakes. They liked to settle in under the front step, so we kept it in the closet by the front door, loaded with 7 1/2 in the magazine — nothing in the chamber.

    About two or three years later, he came for a visit. After a bit, he asked where we had it stored since he’d decided to sell it and had a buyer for it. We told him where it was and that we had found it useful for snakes so kept it loaded and ready.

    Mike went to the closet to pull it out. He then cycled it once and pulled the trigger. BLAM! Then drip, drip, drip. I didn’t mention that my bedroom was upstairs and it was in the heyday of the waterbed.

  26. I love the 16g, more power then the .410, and not too much power like a 12bore. But more often then not, i am that ass out there with a .410 OU and i limit out more often then not. Love the look on peoples faces when you are one of the first ones out of the field, and have the smallest gun on the range. It took a few hunts with the German Jagger’s to prove to them i was ok with just a .410. They always want a bigger gun, Guess they thing that more lead will correct a poor shot.

  27. Public lands are dangerous places during hunting season. We see slob hunters out here in SD every year during deer season.

  28. Reminds me of a goose hunting trip on some public wetlands.

    We were there at o’dark thirty, (having started the drive at midnight), great location with some good cover, little pond in front of us, the whole nine yards.

    Getting on towards dawn, however, it was starting to look like an anti-aircraft regiment had moved in. Everywhere we looked, there were shotgun barrels pointed at the sky and being swung around. (Not a bird in sight, yet.)

    Guy I was hunting with hands me an empty pint whiskey bottle and whispers, “When I yell, throw it in the pond”.

    He then gives this loud drunken sounding “PUUUuuuUULLLllll…” and I throw.

    Four guys completely unload on this poor unsuspecting bottle floating innocently in the pond.

    Nobody hits it until Danny reloaded and finally centered it on his second shot. (He still fired again… four seconds later.)

    Five minutes later there was NO ONE within a quarter mile of us, and life was good.

    (Fish and Game did have some questions about alcohol consumption as we were leaving, however. We hadn’t had a drop, and there was, after all, no evidence of littering…)

    Only got three birds, though. Most of the flocks had more sense than to get within range of all lead flying skyward. (I’ve oftern wondered what the muzzle flashes looked like from the air as the first formation came over, but there is no way in HELL I would have wanted to be close enough to see it…)

  29. And nothing wrong at all, at all, with the 16ga. At least you can still buy ammo over the counter for it.

    Try finding 32ga ammo sometime…

  30. Public land hunters seem to have more than their share of idiots. The first stable I took riding lessons at was right next to public land on Cape Cod, and they lost my favorite mount to a hunter one year.

    Glad for your sake those other folks were only after dove.

  31. 32ga is a bit odd, but have you priced the ammo for 102.5ga lately? Still available, but way too expensive.

  32. Oh man, I miss my Sweet Sixteen! I sure could have used it Saturday. Great post!

  33. They can have my Belgium Browning 16 gauge when they pry it…..

    Ε hard

  34. Ahh yes LD you can spin a yarn and thanks for sharing. One of my heartiest (neologism ?) laughs of the day.

  35. I was blessed with a grandfather that had 700 acrs of farmland in middle Georgia when I was growing up. He always planted and prepared several dove fields for the season and a invite from him was a guarantee of a fine day of shooting and some good eating. His gun of choice was a Remington 1100 in 16 Gauge. My father’s choice was a Browning Sweet-Sixteen. I have them both now and sincerely believe no finer round exists for Dove. I need to get back to GA and hunt up a dove shoot.

  36. Dog,
    I just re-read an realized you said a 16 ga. model 11.

    Man, what a gun. I am a little envious.

    You make a good point of why I dislike public land hunting.
    Surely you know some ranchers or farmers out there in your county.

    Mr Fixit

  37. “Surely you know some ranchers or farmers out there in your county.”

    Probably about like it is around here. Most of the farmland is either posted “no hunting”, (from too many idiots blowing away cattle), or has been leased to some city slicker with deep pockets.

  38. My father in law had “an old gun in the closet” which he brought out the other day. A Sweet Sixteen Belgian Browning of all possible things. WOW! Must have took one heck of a karma drain to have that pop up but it was worth it.

    The wife had been around guns long enough by that point to call inheritance in about 0.2 seconds. I do love that woman.

    I have hope the 16 will come back. Damn 28 taking up all the shelf space these days…

  39. Obsolete gauge my bum!!

    I’ll gladly give you a 21 gun with my .280 Ackley Improved.

    It may take a while. It’s a single-shot, but the offer stands.

  40. “…like a 16ga.”
    Can’t say anything. Years ago I picked up a Win M-12 in 16ga. Mostly because somebody before me had shortened the barrel to about 18″. Otherwise I’m a 20ga guy myself.

  41. I’ve never understood why 16 gauge is “obsolete” and 20 gauge is considered a “standard” gauge.

    The 16 gauge is just enough less than a 12 to make a difference, without being so much less that it’s really a just a replacement for guys who can’t use a .410.

    Sweet gauge, good for most medium to small game. Kinda like the shotgun world’s .30-30. . .

    But this type of story (and witnessing some atrocious East Coast deer “hunts” that looked like a Third World ambush) is why I don’t like to hunt.

  42. Ah yes, public lands at the start of dove season.

    I lived in Yuma, AZ. Common wisdom was that you would never take your dog out first week of season – but mother’s in law were gladly welcomed.

    Around there the irrigation ditches were great spots to hunt from – concrete lined, flat bottomed, dry (of course) and about belly / chest high. You could sit on the slope of one side and easily hunt the field in front of you.

    First week of season and you’d see ranks of gun barrels sticking up. Anything moved in the sky (sometimes apparently including large insects) and the ‘aak-aak gunners’ would open up. Always amazing how fast they could reload, being able to get 15 shots out of 3 guns with a three shell / gun limit…

    If they were peppering you yelling just made them improve their aim. One shell carefully sent just over their position usually worked though.

    My brother and I once found a 3″ 10-ga shell loaded with #4 shot. That one was unfired, several others weren’t. So ok that guy did have a chance when they opened up on the cropduster that passed over. Mostly we’d go clean up their hulls since they were a great source of once-used shells.

    You could also usually limit out by simply collecting the dove they did manage to hit and never bothered to pick up.

    Made good money off of all the beer cans too.

  43. Obsolete? Obsolete! NOTHING Is OBSOLETE Until WE Decide It Is!!!
    -The Reloaders
    I miss my SxS 16…….It was a cheap Montgomery Wards gun, handed down from my dad, and he got it from his dad – nothing fancy. When I was a kid, I couldn’t miss with that thing. I couldn’t afford to……….

  44. “I’ve never understood why 16 gauge is “obsolete” and 20 gauge is considered a “standard” gauge.”

    Me neither. I think us 16guage fans are being discriminated against. If the ammo manufacturers wanted to, they could make 16guage ammo for the same price as 12 and 20.

    “Sweet gauge, good for most medium to small game. Kinda like the shotgun world’s .30-30. . . “

    That’s been my thought for a good many years now. I’m a .30-30 fan too… got my deer last Thanksgiving Day with a good old Winchester ’94 and 150gr CoreLokt. I grew up with .30-30 and 16guage… and I’m 33 years old. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    “But this type of story (and witnessing some atrocious East Coast deer “hunts” that looked like a Third World ambush) is why I don’t like to hunt.”

    I know a part of Alabama where drives with dogs are customary. I’ve even rode down a dirt road where they were setting up to drive several times, but I’ve never taken part in such an affair. As for the “Third World ambush”, I don’t believe I know any hunters who do that.


  45. Mr. Dog you have excellent taste in shotguns!

    I also own a Model 11 except mine is in 12 Gauge. No slights to the 16 though. I just prefer the 12 as I reload shotshells and that is what I have the equipment for.

  46. The 16 is a great one especially if it is in a gun designed around it.

    I still have a M65 field jacket with holes peppered across the back where a bunch of guys were shooting clay targets managed to rake me right across the back with a 12 ga.

    Same jacket has a big hole from a shotgun slug from deer season (was hunting in Iowa where shotguns and deer slugs were required) I was on state forest land and had a guy shoot right towards me at a deer that was between me and him. Heard the slugs whistle past me and my jacket which was open and flapping in the breeze tug sorta funny. I didn’t realize until I got home that night but one of them had passed through my coat just to the inside of the pocket towards the back just below the middle point of the jacket. I was still a teenager 18 or 19 I think, and fearless of course but that scared me. I mean it had to have been really close to tearing into my side to have hit my coat where it did. I was shook up and I never went back out to hunt on public land that year or anywhere that there might be a chance of encountering another hunter. I don’t think I went the next year either.

  47. Oh, I dunno – sounds like this was safer than your last fishing adventure… At least you didn’t have to get the shot surgically removed…

    /me ducks the incoming 16ga. fire

  48. Reference unix-jedi post at 3:13 Pm..
    A Texas game warden at a county hunt doing something that stupid? I thought we had culled such idiots from our ranks…if true.
    A retired game warden

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