What happened next happens every September. The midday hours were slow, and we’d mosey around the fields to check in with high school buddies and old family friends we hadn’t seen since who knows when. By late afternoon, most years, the birds would kick into high gear. As they careened into the field, it was like watching footage from old wars, the skies blotted out with bursts of flak smoke where you could hardly believe a plane could make it through all of that shrapnel. Doves slipped through the defenses, dodging a dozen shots from half a dozen shotguns, and exited the field missing a tail feather or three. But not all made it through. Some years the limits came too easily, and it was over before anyone wanted it to be. Other years we were still scratching birds down in a red sunset sky. Always different. But always the same.