September 23, 2013
Dove Hunting Etiquette: When Strangers Set Up Too Close
By Phil Bourjaily
I got to the best field at our local WMA first on Labor Day and sat near one corner. A couple of other parties arrived in the dark, the closer one set up 150-200 yards away. No problem.
Ten minutes after shooting time a father and his teenage son came crashing through the bushes behind me and plunked their buckets down 30 yards away. “Good morning,” I said, assuming they hadn’t seen me tucked in the bushes and would perhaps go somewhere else. “Morning,” the man said, and proceeded to set his decoys ten yards from mine.
That was it. He didn’t introduce himself or ask if it was okay to sit there. Nothing. Some people think there’s nothing wrong with doing this on public land because it’s, well, public. Others — me, for instance — would never do it.
I was torn between wanting to be welcoming to a father taking his son hunting and not wanting to reward them for their very bad manners by asking them to hunt with me. So, I said nothing. All I wanted to do was enjoy the first day of the new season.
So what do you do when strangers set up 30 yards away from you in a public dove field? Which one of these choices would you have done?
a.) Yell at them
b.) Invite them to hunt with you
c.) Tell them to move farther away
What I wanted to do was say “Hey kid, your dad’s a jerk. Come hunt with me.”
What I probably should have done is said, “You guys are too close. We should either hunt together or you should move.”
What I did was d.) leave.
And while d.) is not the strongest answer, it worked for me. I let them shoot at the first dove that came past me, which they lost in the woods at the end of the field. We all opened up on the next couple — and missed — so I decided this was ridiculous and packed my stuff up and left. I bounced around the wildlife area all day, scratching down three doves in the process. In the evening I came back to the field where I started and, to my surprise, found it empty. I shot the dozen birds I needed to finish my limit in a couple of hours.