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Dove Opener 2018 BY Gary Howey

  The sun was beginning to makes its decent into the western sky as I pulled into the field where we would park our pickups on opening day of the Nebraska dove season.

   We had planned this hunt later in the day as the hours from about five pm to sundown is generally an excellent time of the day to set up and hunt doves near ponds.  Dove, after feeding, like to come to water to drink before going into the trees to roost for the night.

  I had not so patiently waited for this year’s dove season and was more than ready for the hunt as everything was ready the week prior to Saturdays dove hunting season.  

  I had my upland game permit & stamps, my hip number, which is required in Nebraska and a method the Game & Parks uses to get an idea on what species of migratory birds you hunted in the previous year.

  My shotgun was cleaned, I had checked its choke to make sure I would be shooting an improved cylinder choke, checked to make sure I had my plug in, as when hunt migratory birds you are not allowed to holds more than three shells in your shotgun.

  I had located my hunting vest along with the rest of my camo and hunting clothing in my back office, Camo is not terribly important when hunting doves, but it allows the hunter to blend in with the terrain he is hunting.

  My vest pockets had been loaded with AA loads and because I did not want to run out of ammo again, as I had while defending the base perimeter from a bunker we were manning during an extended firefight in Viet Nam, I had stashed an additional shotgun shells, a full case in my truck.

  As there are times when hunting doves, you need to walk a ways to get to the location you plan to hunt; it is a good idea to have a bucket or two along to transport your gear. I carry two; a six-gallon bucket filled with my decoys and ammo along with a swivel seat, which is the perfect height for me to set on as it is comfortable, allowing me to turn from side to side without much movement.

  I also bring along a five-gallon bucket  that holds the rest of my essential dove hunting gear, insect repellent, Hornady Hearing Protectors, water and a couple of salted nut rolls just in case I get hungry.

  Arriving at our designated time, Anthony Thoene, Hartington, NE. one of my hunting partners was there waiting for me, his brother Dani, would join us later, completing our threesome.

  It was the first day of the 2018 Dove season and Anthony, his brother Dani and I hoped to have a good dove shoot as we did several years back as we were hunting the same dam, with very similar hunting conditions. On that hunt, the birds started coming in early, beginning around five in groups of eight to ten and continued to come in throughout late afternoon.

  On that hunt, empty shotgun casings, both twenty and twelve gauge covered the ground around us as we did our best to drop one bird for every ten shots, which is said to about the average shells expended per bird for the average hunter.

  We were fortunate in a way, as we had received rain through the better parts of June, July and into August, filling the pond we were hunting.

   In years past, when the dam was not holding the water, the Thoene brothers installed a liner in the depression,  in hopes of getting enough water in the dam to allow the cattle as well as the doves to have a place to drink.

  For two years, the pond remained either dry or not enough water there to interest the cattle as well as the doves.

  This year, the ponds throughout northeast Nebraska all had water, giving the doves numerous of places to get a drink before going to roost.

  We knew that ponds with high line poles or dead tree close by would attract doves as they like to land and check things out before coming down to drink. [Read more…]