Dove Hunting with My Browning 16ga. Auto

Posted on September 1, 2008. Filed under: Guns and Hunting |

Monday, Sept.1, 2008– Back in about 1991 my father-in-law, Tommy, gave me his Browning 16ga. Auto, that he purchased new in 1958. Known affectionately as the ‘Sweet 16’, this fine hunting shotgun is a family heirloom. From ’91 to about 2000 I used the shotgun rarely for some skeet shooting and I fired some slugs and buckshot out of it to check its accuracy. On a 100 yard range I hit the target with a slug so I was comfortable with taking it hunting for deer or hogs should the opportunity ever arise. In 2000 I started going hunting with my friend Bob and the ‘Sweet 16’ has been a constant companion. Today in Texas was the opening day for Dove Season so this blog will tell the story of Dove Hunting with my Browning 16ga.

I was able to do a swap at work in order to get today off, even though it is Labor Day, we have a 24X7 operation at work. I taught Sunday School yesterday at our church, Redeemer Church in Fort Worth, but skipped the worship service so that I could go home and prepare for the hunt. I normally would have taken care of those details on Saturday but I spent a few hour with some of the folks from our Church Family Care Group. We met at The Ole’ South Pancake House on University in Fort Worth for breakfast, then we went to the Will Rogers Center for a gun show. Anyway, I was behind and consequently had to skip church yesterday.

After loading up our gear in my son Jeremy’s Camry, we went to Bob’s house and left from there, Bob and Steven in Bob’s Dodge Ram 1500 towing the trailer with the two 4 wheelers and grill, Jeremy and me in the Camry. We left Bob’s house at about 1400 and got to the Shamrock Inn at Dublin, TX by about 1530. After checking into the rooms we headed out SE of Dublin to Don’s place where we have hunted dove a few times over the past 8 years. We checked in with Don, chatted for a while, paid our $150 ea. for the season, then did some scouting. We saw plenty of dove to encourage us! Then we set up and did a little skeet to warm up. Everyone did pretty well but Steven realized he had to change guns so he ended up using another 20ga. Both Bob and Steven prefer the 20ga and through the years Steven has always been the top bird hunter in our group, followed by Bob. Jeremy was using his Winchester 1300 pump 12ga and I was shootin’ 16’s.

A Texas thunderstorm blew in so we had to pack up and go before the field turned to mud. Jeremy’s Toyota Camry is not a 4X4 like Bob’s Ram. We had planned on doing a cook out at the lease but with buckets of water pouring down we decided to go into Dublin and eat at the DQ. I ate a chicken salad at DQ. Voof! It was  just some iceberg lettuce, cheese, crispy chicken and some honey mustard dressing. It was pretty worthless but tasted OK. That’s the last time I eat a salad in a DQ- Hunger Busters from now on! After DQ we went back to the Shamrock Inn. Jeremy and I were both feeling poorly so we decided to stay in our room while Bob and Steven went back out to the lease to scout some more and drop the trailer.

Jeremy was asleep by 1900 or so, but I stayed up and read some of Larry Niven’s “Ringworld”. I was asleep by 2200 but 0430 was coming early!

We rose early and ate a breakfast provided by Bob of some biscuits, cheese and ham. I brought some Kashi bars and honey buns so we had a pretty filling breakfast though I forgot to bring any coffee or my camp stove. Voof! No coffee! We were on the road to the lease by 0600 and got to Don’s place by 0620 and were in place ready to hunt by 0630. Instead of choosing the field where we saw the dove on Sunday, Bob chose the very back field where we had hunted a couple of years ago with moderate success. We ended up regretting that decision!

In Texas you can start shooting at 30 min. before sunrise, so we were hearing gunfire behind us by 0645. Jeremy and I were at the edge of a field in a tree line facing north. About 150 yards to our east was a dirt road and more trees. To our west was a field that had a good amount of sunflowers, so we thought we ought to get a lot of birds- but we saw very few birds! We kept hearing a LOT of firing behind us, over the hill, but we weren’t doing any shooting. Steven got off a few shots, he was the furthest to the west in the middle of that field with the sunflowers, but Bob, Jeremy and I weren’t doing any good at all.

After about an hour we met back at the truck and discussed going to the part of the lease that had all the gunfire. We ended up just reorienting ourselves and doing a bit of walking. Jeremy and I walked west along the fenceline. I eventually got two birds but Jeremy just got one bird. Unfortunately, the dove fell across the fence and Jeremy was not able to find it. Eventually what we did was to put Jeremy on the north of the fence and me on the south so that if one of us shot a bird on the wrong side of the fence, the other could retrieve it. We did not get many shots at all. Jeremy shot twice and I shot about 12-15 times. I normally exercise a bit more shot discipline than that but when you don’t see many birds, you start shooting at birds that are too far away.

We finally gave up and came back to the truck at about 0900 as most of the shooting was over and the birds were down in the fields. After a little while, Steven and I decided to walk through the field and see if we could stir up some birds. This is a good technique with quail or even pheasant, but my experience is that the dove take off when you are about 50-75 yards away so that you just cannot get a shot. I got off one more shot in that walk and bagged one of the larger Mexican dove. The Mexican dove is probably about 50% larger than the basic mourning dove and has some fat on its breast. The Mexican dove looks a lot darker in flight than the other doves because its back is a speckled black, brown and white, very similar to a quail. It has a longer neck and legs but the shape of its head and shape of the wings in flight is just like the other doves. I remember my son Luke bagging a couple of these two years ago on the same lease. We had never seen them before and didn’t even keep the first one he shot but we kept the second one because Bob told us what they were.

All in all, I fired about 15 rounds and got three birds today. Pretty pathetic. Jeremy shot the one but lost it, Bob got 2, Steven got one, and Bob’s dog, Maggie the black Lab, found someone else’s kill and brought it to Bob! A total of 7 birds by the end of the morning hunt, pretty pathetic indeed.

How did the Browning 16ga. perform? Accuracy is not a problem. The gun shoots straight and true. The recoil is no problem. The only problem I had was about 3 failures to fully extract the spent cartridge resulting in stovepipe jams. That is an increasing problem over the last three seasons so I might need to take it in to a gunsmith and see what the problem is. But hey, this gun is 50 years old this year.

Bob and I went exploring on the 4wheelers for a while and checked with some other hunters to see how they did. Sure enough, the hunters to our south and west were at the limit or close to it. We could readily see that the birds were coming in at the other field in much higher numbers than at our field. On the way back to our camp I caught a wasp in the face, complete with stinger. That was pretty funny! Thank the Lord I am not allergic, I have never had a bad reaction to any kind of bee or wasp stings.

We started our cook out at about 1300. We cleaned our birds and stuffed the breasts with some jalapenos, wrapped them in bacon and placed them on the grill along with some Ballpark franks. Bob warmed up some beans and cooked some corn on the cob on the grill. We each ate our fill and had some strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Bob and Steven were going to stay for the evening hunt and were going to relocate to the better field. Jeremy and I needed to come home early so we left about 1500, picked up three cases of Dublin Dr. Pepper, and were home by 1630.

In the evening hunt, Steven got 5-6 more birds because they relocated to one of the more productive fields, but he had ot work for them. He walked up and down through the field about 5-6 times scaring up the birds. Next time we go out we are going to definitely set up camp at one of those other fields!

It was a fun day and worth the expense of a hunting license, motel and food, ammo, lease fee and gasoline. It was a bit frustrating that we didn’t see more birds, but those are the breaks. We are hoping to go back a couple of more times this season, hopefully when Luke is home on leave from Ft. Bragg.


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