(Photo © Russ Chastain)
Most of the time, dove season sneaks up on me and finds me unprepared. I’ll shoot a round or two of skeet at the property the morning before the hunt, usually do poorly, and do about as well on the dove field that afternoon. But this year I decided to give myself a little bit of a chance by getting in some practice ahead of time.
I dug out the old manually-operated spring-powered clay target slinger and gave it some love. It hadn’t been used in years, so it needed some oil and some welding. I’d repaired the old steel frame before, and it was due for it again, along with a little reinforcement.
Then I headed off to a nice clearing in the woods and set up shop. All I really did was park the UTV, drop the tailgate, and stomp the target launcher’s frame into the dirt. Then I tied a loop in a line & attached it to the slinger’s trigger. Dug out some shells and some clays, and got ready to rock.
The biggest aggravation with this system is having to manually cock the target thrower before every shot. It’s not that difficult, but you have to bend over and fight a stiff spring to get it cocked. (I’m considering a modification to help out with that, though… if that happens you can expect more on that in a later post.)
After cocking, I’d back off a little ways with the trigger line around my left foot. Pull line with foot, clay pigeon goes flying, try to hit it. Easy, right?
After you do it 50 times in Florida’s muggy morning heat, it’s time to call it a day.
I keep my bird vest at the hunt camp, so there’s not a lot of gear prep for me to do until I get there a day or so before the hunt. Mainly it’s me I need to get into shooting shape!
I didn’t do very well this time, even though the shooting should’ve been pretty easy as the targets were flying more or less straight away from me… some days, you’re just not in the groove.
Looks like the doves are safe from me so far — but I’m gonna keep trying.
What preps are you making for dove season?