The Planted Row: Hunting an activity best shared with others

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Farm Forum

Last Saturday morning, my sister posted a comment to Facebook that reads, “Why do you need to fire your gun off 5 times in a row every single time? Conclusion: You’re not good at this. Go home and let me sleep.”

When I read it, I knew exactly what she was talking about. In Mississippi, Labor Day weekend marks the opening of dove season, and in the area where I grew up, what sounds like World War III begins before dawn on Saturday morning.

When I was a teenager, I was one of the noise-makers. My excitement would begin two weeks before. I’d carefully clean my gun, an Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight, and buy a case of shells. I would take every opportunity to practice before the big day by shooting clay pigeons. My friends and I would make plans about where we planned to hunt.

On the Friday before opening day, some of my cousins who lived out-of-state would come back to the farm to take part in the hunt. Family members would begin telling old hunting stories. Some would recount the hilarious hijinks of my father and his brothers when they were younger. Others would retell frightening accidents.

I never had trouble waking up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning. I was always too excited to sleep in. After a light breakfast, I would put on my hunting vest and make sure it held every possible shell I could fit in it. Then I’d grab a five-gallon bucket (to sit on) and join my friends and family in their walk to the fields.

Shortly after first light, the doves would start flying, and the countryside would erupt in gunfire. And though it sounded like a war, it was thrilling. We would alert one another when a dove was heading toward someone else. When someone downed a bird, we’d cheer them on with a “nice shot,” and tease those who missed their dove. “How’d you miss that? He was flying so low, I could see his landing lights.”

And that’s what I loved most about dove hunting. It was a social hunt. It was a way to spend time with family and friends outdoors. It helped us stay close. I only ever hunted for a week or so after opening weekend because after that there were fewer people hunting. For the same reason, I avoided deer hunting and turkey hunting. Those seemed like much more solitary, quiet hunts with less social interaction, and they didn’t really excite me.

I know people in the Northern Plains are starting to think about bird hunting. I had to stop my car this weekend to avoid hitting pheasants crossing the road. They took their sweet time, and I thought to myself, “Slow birds will make for some happy hunters this fall.” With South Dakota Game Fish and Parks saying pheasant numbers are up 42 percent this year, I hope your family enjoys some lively hunts.

Setting It Straight

In the Aug. 21, Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 editions of the Farm Forum, the Horse Events Calendar listed an incorrect date for the 2016 Miss Rodeo Aberdeen Pageant. The correct date is Aug. 14, 2016.

We regret the error. The Farm Forum tries to be fair and accurate. Errors discovered by our staff or our readers will be corrected in this space. If you find an error, email farmforum@aberdeennews.com.

Contest winner

This week’s Farm Forum 50th anniversary cash giveaway contest winner is Patrick Dutter of Aberdeen, S.D. Patrick will receive a replica windmill and is eligible to win the $5,000 cash grand prize. Prizes are mailed at the end of each month.