Ah, September 1st, Labor Day.
I love Labor Day, have for over 20 years. Not because it is a day off, or any of that silly non-sense. No, I love Labor Day because it is the opening of dove season here in Texas. And Dove season is the beginning fall to me.
Dove season in Texas, at least my part of it, is as much social as it is sporting. It's when friends get together and take to the fields, shotguns in hand, to out shoot each other and hope to bag enough dove for a tasty cook out. On the opening weekend of dove season, it often sounds like a young war as folks are all over the country shooting.
I am very lucky to have grown up in the country. My family (uncles on both sides) still has farm land they work. I am privileged to know many many farmers who don't mind letting friends hunt on their property.
And that is just what I did.
This year was special though. This was the first year my middle son went dove hunting. He wasn't too enthusiastic about it in the last couple of years, but this year he was. His first year to hunt at age 12 means he is just about the right age. He was excited.
We met my Father at his house, and loaded up. Middle son had his bird hunting vest and 20 gauge bolt shotgun. I had my 12, dad has his 16 gauge. Dad also brought his 20 gauge double, an old(ish) Spanish made side by side. It is a really nice, albeit inexpensive gun. Thin wrist, trim fore stock, lightweight. Not too long. In fact, it fit my middle son great. He quickly claimed it for the trip. I have to say he looked really good standing there in his vest and cap, with a side by side broke open hanging carefully across his arm.
We drove to the bottoms. (bottom land near the river) Down the old dirt road, unlocked to gate and onto the farm that once belonged to my great-great grandfather. We parked and got our stuff out. We spread out, my father about 50 yards from myself and my son. I sat behind him. We went over fields of fire, and waited.
I wish I could say we were covered with dove, but we weren't. We heard a few shots in the distance, but not a lot. What we did see several of were blackbirds. Some call them Grackles, all call them nuisance. They were exciting when we caught them in our peripheral vision though.
We took a few shots, son taking the most. Hit a couple birds too.
Son had a blast. He wants to go everyday. It was great fun. It was really nice to hunt with both my father, and son. These are the trips that make memories. Trips that a young boy will one day look back on and smile at the thought of hunting with his family, who are also his friends. Memories like that last.
I still have the memory of hunting with both my father and grand-father. An open field with cut Milo and goat weed, the heat, the birds, the excited shouts of "Here they come!" and "Behind you!". I'll never forget the kidding everyone got and gave over a missed shot, or the pride and congratulations when I was successful.
I love those memories, and hope that my sons make memories that mean as much to them.