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Dove hunting makes forever memories

With the cooler temperatures this week, Oxford and Lafayette County residents realize that Ole Miss football is close. For many, including myself, it also means that hunting season is near and I can start getting items in preparation for opening day.

The first Saturday of September is usually the opening day of dove season. It is usually the first hunting season to open, and can be much like a social event for many hunters.

Dove hunts can be as simple as a few people sitting in the back of a pickup truck near a wheat field, or as elaborate as hundreds of people gathering around a big sunflower field in the Delta with a sitdown meal planned for lunch. Most of these hunts would include hunting another field that afternoon and someone riding around making sure that everyone had plenty of water and Gatorade to fight the sweltering heat.

You’re often there just to give others grief as they miss shots; doves are hard birds to shoot as they fly fast and can change direction in mid-air. Dove hunting is one type of hunting when talking is encouraged and that is part of what makes it so much fun.

I remember growing up how excited I used to be when I realized opening day was around the corner. Ric Folk and I used to always try and line up a couple of fields around Oxford to hunt on different days. Ric’s father, the late Bob Folk, always seemed to know where we needed to go. I remember hunting a cut cornfield near Paris where our gun barrels got too hot to touch from shooting so much. It seemed there was an endless supply of doves and they never stopped flying.

Dove season always opened the Saturday before Labor Day and we knew we would get to hunt several different fields with the holiday on Monday. Many late afternoons, we would sit near the field we were going to hunt the next morning trying to see where the birds were flying.

Paul Briscoe, from Oxford, always had a great dove hunt for so many of our Kappa Alpha Order fraternity brothers near Clear Creek. After many of those hunts, we’d have a party and cook the doves wrapped in bacon and eat them hot off the grill. We’d also have bruised shoulders for days and a sore throat from yelling, “coming over.”

During my years at Ole Miss, I tried my hand at my own dove field located behind the house that my brother, Dan, owned. I would take our little Ford tractor and disk the dirt for several days before harrowing it and spreading the wheat with our spreader. It was only about a 4-5 acre plot and small by most standards, but I was extremely proud of the field.

I remember going to the old Co-Op on University Avenue where Walgreens is now and buying bags of wheat for $5. I must have been crazy for spending money that I had worked so hard for on wheat to attract a few doves.

We always had a great time with Dan, Andy and I hunting, usually with a few close friends of ours. We knew we would kill a few birds, but just being with your brothers enjoying something together made it all worthwhile.

After college, I didn’t have the time to commit to making our little field possible. Before long, my son Pittman was big enough to drag along on the hunts. Kirby, Brock Houston and Ralph Daniels had a field off of Campground Road that we hunted for several years.

Most of these people were friends that I grew up with in Oxford and we always had a great time. That field was a lot larger and we always seemed to have a great hunt. Usually this hunt took place on the opening day of Ole Miss football and Pittman didn’t want to miss a game so we usually hunted early in the morning and went to the football game in the afternoon.

Dove hunting with my brothers, friends, and son is something that I will always reminisce as the seasons pass so fast.