I don’t know about you, but fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. It finally starts cooling down here in Texas (except for this year), Hatch Chiles are in season, football is everywhere and hunting season begins. Now, I haven’t been a big hunter in the past. I grew up fishing and love to bass fish at our family ranch but with water scarce and my love of cooking and eating wild game (view most favored wild game recipe on ISMS) I figured it was time for me to join the boys and start hunting.
With hunting license in hand I was off to help Texas control the white wing dove population or blow my head off. No, I really didn’t believe that I would shoot myself. That would be silly . What I really was worried about was shooting the husband… or a cow. My father-in-law would have been very mad if I shot one of his cows.
Although he didn’t say it, I knew that the husband was a little worried about getting shot as well when he dropped me off by a brush pile with gun and ammo and high tailed it out of there to the other side of the tank.
So, there I sat having shot many guns before just not at a moving target thinking this is either going to be epic or it’s going to be an epic fail.
I waited and waited and…waited. I waited amongst the humming of the bees hoping they wouldn’t sting me like the demented wasp my sister-in-law and I went to war with and lost to earlier in the day.
With my ADD getting the best of me, I put down the gorgeous old shotgun and picked up my camera. It was quiet. A little too quiet. I took a picture of this thistle that kept scratching me. *whistle whistle whistle* Still quiet, not a single dove. Then a rustling in the brush pile next to me made me throw down my camera, grab the gun to shoot the obvious 10 foot rattle snack that must have been hunting me this whole time. I waited for it to show it’s face, thinking, “great! I’m 40 miles away from the nearest hospital.” Now I’m shaking a little, my mind overtaking all sensible thinking. I’m trying to remember what the heck did Bear Gylls say you’re supposed to do with a snake bite! Holy crap. Why didn’t I listen? Am I supposed to suck the venom out? Run, scream, and jump in the water? Act bigger than it is? No that’s not it. Knowing that crazy fool I’m probably supposed to catch it and eat it’s beating heart or something like that. Yeah, that must be it. I can feel my heart pounding through my chest while Bear Grylls voice is ringing in my ears when suddenly I hear the husband scream, “SHOOT SHOOT!” I then hear the flapping of wings as a dove flies right over my head and I immediately focus all attention on the dove. Because who cares if I get bit there’s antivenom, right? I shoot twice, miss by a foot, blow a limb off a tree and sigh. It’s then I remember I was in battle with a 20 foot man eating rattlesnake and turn to the brush pile to see the verocious animal that was making all of the terrifying noises rumbling around in the sticks JUMP OUT right in front of me. AHH! With it’s terrifying little beak and wingspan as big as my hand, the man eating “snake” (also know to normal people as a Finch) flew away.
Hmmm… so maybe my imagination got the best of me. I laughed, thankful no one was there to witness that but realizing I would most likely tell you and you would confirm all suspicions you have about me that I was certifiably crazy.
I reload and wait…and wait again.
Time to take pictures again. That’s me wondering where the flip are the doves?
I wait and reflect on how much I love this place. How many great memories I have here and how nervous the husband was when he proposed on the highest hill and I said yes. I also stop and gasp when I realize how this land has taken a beating this summer and how everyone in Texas and surrounding areas has been affected by one of the worse droughts in years. Here’s a comparison:
This is the largest creek and spring fed tank on the ranch. Here: September 10, 2011.
Same spot on September 23, 2010.
It was then in the quiet that I heard noises behind me…right behind me. I turned to see…
this amazing sight. I see deer all the time on the ranch but to see them so close without any fear (as I’m holding a gun… no one said they were Mensa members) was breathtaking. What you can’t see is the 6 doe that are right in front of me drinking from the lower water level. Why did I not bring the 250mm lens? Why!
As the sun set and no birds were in sight, I heard The Husband grumble something about whisky in the distance and I knew it was time to pack up. A pleasant beautiful night brought a harvest moon and I knew at that moment I was hooked. Once that cold front comes through and brings the doves I will be back and every year after that.
There’s my dove hunting story but I’m not done yet. I’m going to leave you with two of my favorite shots from this weekend (not birds obviously).
Here’s Mrs. Gumpus. Usually the first when there’s food and always the first to get right in my face when I’m trying to get anywhere. She does not like me. Just look at the snarl she greets me with every time. If anything should happen to me and you don’t hear from me for awhile, she did it.
And here’s my two loves. Tim after his run with Jack that caused a stampede and Mia screaming, “faster faster!”