September Beginnings

September's always been my favorite month.  I was probably in my teens before realizing that Labor Day Weekend was not a national celebration of Mississippi's dove opener. Still seems like too much of a good thing to be purely coincidental.

During the pre-hunt rally of a prominent annual dove hunt in North Delta, one of our gracious hosts once commented that no one in attendance was there by accident; that a friend or family member had sincerely wanted them there.  It's true.  However simple the pageantry, or extensive the preparation, surely the truest essence of September dove hunting is family, close friends, and the kind of camaraderie that can only be experienced in parched fields become gray-streaked with mourning doves.

If there's anything better than spent gunpowder lingering in the humid air that very first afternoon, it's the smell of bacon-wrapped dove breasts over a bed of hot charcoal. One of my grandfathers used to slowly sauté doves in a spicy concoction of worcestershire sauce (woostershire being the proper enunciation), butter, lemon juice and black pepper. My mouth waters just thinking about it being ladled onto a plate of rice.  Using the exact recipe it's never as good as remembered, and I always wonder why.

I learned to shoot on a dove field.  The inception of a lifestyle.  I remain mindful of the truly great men that indoctrinated me properly into wingshooting; that instilled the virtues of shooting flighted birds, and spending times afield with those that matter most. Those 2 inveterate sportsmen always finessed their 12-bird limits early and retired to nearby shade.  Never missed the Ole Miss pre-game broadcast.  They'd nurse a beer, watch us youngsters render our own limit, or try, quietly reminisce past times or cuss the game. Old retrievers laid at their feet, panting.

If anything rivals those hallowed days, it's watching my own children's beginnings.  From the shade, I see my sons developing into capable shots.  Into vested conservationists.  Years ago they selected Delta from the litter, and now she is finally showing her years.  Bearing witness as a sacred torch passes from my predecessors' hands into theirs is a fine privilege.

Ramsey Russell's GetDucks.com