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Dave's Commentary

August 5, 2000

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I guess we’re all warming up for dove and upland game hunting this time of year…

by shooting our shotguns and refreshing our hunting dogs training.

Someone once quoted me a statistic that the average hunter will shoot an average of 7 shells for every dove bagged.  That’s a little over 3 birds per box!  Even though I’m really close to Joe Average, I have a notion that most of us don’t practice enough and put way too much pressure on ourselves.

On a quail hunt last season, a gentleman, though experienced in hunting, was having a terrible time finding the targets over a 2-day hunt.  With every covey rise he would get more and more frustrated over his inability to bag a quail.  At one point he said something about getting rid of his shotgun in a nasty way.

It was near sunset on day two when insult was added to injury.  He was alone and had a thunderous covey rise in the middle of an open field…he didn’t touch one bird.  We had all been joking a good bit over the course of the hunt, and to lighten the moment, I asked him to let me look at his Berretta.  I pointed it in the sky and looked it over carefully, “Aha”, I said.  “I have found your problem.  The barrel appears to be bent to the right a few millimeters”.  The hunter replied “REALLY???”  To which I quickly replied, “No, you just can’t hit anything”.  Everyone had a laugh as it was all in good fun.

Too often, hunters apply more pressure to themselves than they should.  It’s not the number of quail you hit or the number of quail flushed that make up the experience afield.  It’s about being in the field with friends and enjoying the total experience.

Putting pressure on yourself makes you tenser and, as most shooters know, being loose while shotgunning is important.  I have observed this many times, especially on pheasant preserve hunts with a released “betting bird”.

A ‘betting bird’ is usually a mutant melanistic (black or green colored) pheasant that does not look like the traditional ring neck pheasants.  Everyone in the hunting party chips in an equal amount of money before the hunt and whoever gets credit for shooting the betting bird, wins.  This puts pressure on the hunters and does affect their shooting in my opinion.  I’ve seen the betting bird present an easy target only to get away without a scratch many times.  This same group of hunters made many tough shots successfully over the course of hunt on the ring necks…why?  No Pressure – it wasn’t the bettin’ bird!

So folks, do yourself a favor, practice then stay loose and have fun.  If you turn out to be Joe Average, It’s O.K.!

‘Til next time,

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