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Author: Frank Ross
Dove season comes and goes too quickly, so I made a commitment to have several sucessful hunts before the first hard freeze sends these delicious game birds south.
Labor day in Nebraska marked the first day of dove season. In my area of the western panhandle it was officially opened by the resounding blast of three shotguns, trained on the elusive, darting dove.
In past seasons I’ve set up by a treeline with the attitude that I’d take whatever happened to show up, convinced that with so many doves in the area I’d get lucky. Being surrounded by wheat and millet fields, most years that approach works well, but luck is an illusive quantity. After some very marginal results, I decided to become more proactive.
As the blazing sun dropped lower in the afternoon sky, we hiked in about a mile to an isolated treeline with plenty of dead branches, which looked ideal for an evening dove roost. Among my usual bag of gear items was a four-pack of Feather-Flex dove decoys. These decoys are very light to carry, and clip to branches with a clothespin for quick positioning should you decide that another spot would work better.
To enhance the illusion of roosting birds, I brought along a new dove whistle. Since my eldest son plays a mean harmonica, I gave him the call to see what he could do with it. When combined with the decoys it was very effective, and I was quite impressed with the speed with which he mastered the call. After only a few toots he was blowing such believable notes that I looked back to the branches above him to see if some birds had slipped in unnoticed. While many of the birds were totally committed when spotted, several flights were lured in with his lonesome coos.
One of the most critical gear items for any dove shoot is something comfortable to sit on, since there is usually more sitting and waiting than standing and shooting. This season I was also convinced that I needed to improve upon my creature comforts, and fortunately Cabela’s new Dove Hunting Chair Vest needed to be field tested.
Considering the number of times that I’ve had to go back for a stool or seated bucket, this concept of a vest with an attached seat makes a lot of sense to me, but I quickly learned that there is an additional advantage to having your seat with you at all times.
Initially, I set up along a wild plumb thicket, fronted by a CRP field that was covered with tall grass. When the first pair of dove came whistling in, I downed the lead bird and marked the spot visually. As I skittered out for the retrieve my son yelled out, "incoming," and I quickly scanned the horizon. I spotted the birds before they saw me and quickly sat down on my handy seat. I wasn’t completely hidden, but my profile was low enough that the pair flew right toward me. Springing up quickly, I scored with a load of #8 Federal field loads.
When secured with the two easy-release clips, the seat rides comfortably against the small of your back. Once you arrive at your spot and are ready to sit down, all you have to do is release the two clips and grasp the seat’s top bar, as you sit down.
On the vest itself, elastic shell strips are sewn into two handy pockets, one on each side, and positioned over two larger pockets, which are ideal for such things as bug repellant, snacks and a water bottle. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I’d made the right decision when I brought the Case-Gard 100-round shotshell box. After a while I was reaching into it directly to reload, as I steadily turned the shells into spent hulls.
Fortunately my birds fell in the tall grass and I didn’t have to test the vest’s lightweight poly/cotton blended fabric that is designed to stand up to snags and briars; however, with temperatures in the low 80’s I did appreciate the mesh lining.
Numbers makes up for the dove’s lack of size, and in the last hour before sunset the dove descended on our group of three anxious shooters in flights of six or more. In a few minutes of heated action we were able to test the capacity of the vest’s game bag. This vest is designed with two handy pockets with front as well as side and rear access to a blood-proof game bag. I found the front pockets the most useful because they’re very handy when you are shoving in birds quickly as the next flight bores down on you. The wrap-around, zip-open bag has plenty of capacity and it’s easy to empty when you return.
Even with a limit of birds stuffed inside, there was plenty of room, so I’m thinking that when spring turkey season rolls around I’ll have another opportunity to enjoy such a fine vest.Click here to view our dove gear.
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