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Carroll outdoors: Dove season set to begin

Where does the time go? Our mourning dove season begins Monday and continues through Oct. 5. The second season of the three-way split hunt is scheduled for Nov. 6-29 and the the final phase runs from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1.

Incidentally, not too many area hunters participate in this last phase and that's a mistake, because it can often be extremely good. Think about giving it a try this year.

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I had hoped that my stroke recovery would allow me to enjoy tomorrow's hunt, but that will not be the case. Though I have some movement in my left arm, it is not enough to take on the challenge of swinging on a fast, darting, twisting, diving and climbing dove. Maybe next year. Also, I have a difficult time maintaining my balance on uneven footings. Again, maybe next year.

I dearly love the sport of dove hunting and consider it it the best test of a shotgunner's skill. Normally, by now I would have put in some hours at the skeet range, trying to knock the dust off of my scattergunning skills. Skeet, in experience, is the best preseason practice for this season because of the many angles and realistic ranges you get in a round of skeet. Locally, most dove shots are inside of 30 yards and if you choose your setup wisely, they can be closer!

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When I was shooting a lot, I made myself into a respectable scattergunner. Still, left to right crossing shots gave me a fit, some days. Of course, I am right-handed. So, in choosing my shooting position, I always took care to note the bird's flight pattern on that day and tried to cut down on those types of opportunities as much as possible. Not surprisingly, my hit ratio went up significantly. My long-time dove hunting buddy, Wayne Albaugh, did the same thing.

For many years my favorite dove gun and load was a vintage 12-gauge Winchester Model 21 with 26-inch barrels choked Skeet 1 and Skeet 2 and firing standard 1 1/8 trap loads of No. 8 shot. In my later years I found myself using a 28-gauge Remington 100 Sporting semi-autoloader with a 25-inch barrel and screw-in chokes. Guess what?

This pleasant shooting gun, loaded with ¾ ounce of No. 8 shot (I often used the Remington factory sporting clays load instead of reloads in Winchester AA cases) and with a Briley improved-modified choke tube turned out to be even more effective than any 12- or 20-gauge I ever used on doves. The ¾ ounce 28 gauge load is on of the very best balanced off all shotgun loads.

As most of you now, this early mourning dove season is considered the traditional start of the new year's hunting season. By all means, get out and enjoy it. I have often found that the best shooting begins around 3 p.m. and continues right up to sunset.

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OTHER SEASONS SET TO OPEN
The September teal season - a really good one, usually, will be Sept. 16-30. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset; the daily bag limit has been increased to 6 teal. The resident Canada goose season is set for Sept. 2-25, in our "western zone;" shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

ON THE RANGE
A few days ago I decided to spend a few hours at the Dug Hill Rod and Gun Club's shooting range with a couple of my favorite .22s. A day or so previously, I visited a pair of favorite gun shops to purchase some .22 long rifle ammo - no one had any!
I was told that early in the year, a lot of shooters did a lot of "panic buying" of .22 rimfires, and most handgun calibers as well as .223 Remington ammo and the factories have yet to catch up with the current demand. Heck, I bought a long sought-after .222 Remington chambered Sako Vixen in the early spring and could only turn up four boxes of ammo! I have even found most reloading components difficult to find and very expensive when found. Blame this situation, also on the politicians, who started the panic early with their ill-advised and largely unwanted push on new gun control laws.
Anyway, I found a couple of boxes that I had stashed away - two boxes of Winchester Power points and a 100-round box of Winchester M-22s created especially for autoloading arms used for target shooting and plinking. I began the session with a very accurate Smith & Wesson Model 16 - the successior of the famed K22. I shot at 25 yards - and not well - my hand was shaking like a dry leaf in a strong wind.
After 20 rounds through this nice little revolver, I put it back into it's case and set up a .22 LR chambered Remington 541-S bolt action sporter. Using a rest and still shooting at 25 yards, I managed to keep 10 5-shot groups well under ½ inch, but still fought "the shakes" for some reason. The last arm up was a Weatherby Mark XXII autoloader and it really shined when fed the Winchester M22 rounds. I consider this Weatherby to be the finest autoloader ever made, thought I nam also fond of the great Ruger 10/22, as well. This rifle has bagged a number of area grey squirrels over the years. It has the best trigger of any .22 semi- auto rifle I have ever used.
Unfortunately, it was discontinued due to its cost of manufacture, but you can still come across one from time-to-time. A very good gun.

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