Taking a cue from my colleague Phil Bourjaily, here’s my postcard from Nebraska’s dove opener. For somewhere between 15 and 20 years, roughly the same group of friends and I have gotten together on Sept. 1, and while I haven’t made it to every opening day, I’ve been there for most. The shooting is normally great, even if the actual hitting isn’t so good. And the eating is always spot on.
This year we gathered around an idle oil well. One of my friends is a pumper (that’s an oil-well maintenance man) and spends a lot of time checking the area well. As a result, he knows all of the dove hotspots and secures permission for the best. This particular one had a small puddle that had been holding a ton of doves for the past month. Of course, last week the pond finally dried up, but undeterred, one of the younger members of our groups trucked in a few thousand gallons of water over the course of the last week. On Tuesday, there was enough water standing that the doves trickled in for a drink before dark. Though we didn’t shoot our limit, we got enough to split a good meal among the four of us.
At dark, I pulled out the grill and surprised the guys with some pre-prepped dove poppers. I happened to find a pack of doves in the bottom of my freezer last week and knew it would be just the ticket for opening day. I’ve also been recently making a ton of sausage from the leftovers of last year’s elk, and threw a few garlic beer brats on as well. We ate good, had a few cold beers, talked about all those hunts past, and gave each other enough ribbing to last until next year.