Friday, July 22, 2011

Ridiculous Dove Retreive

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Economics of Dove Hunting

Years ago, my father and uncle would walk out their front door, head down the creek and hunt ducks, quail or some other game.  Before then, people depended on fish and game to help feed the family.  Even today, I see folks with cane poles lined up at the river to catch a meal, and I hear about families depending on squirrel hunts to provide food.  My father actually justified the purchase of a nice Browning shotgun by telling my mother that he would be putting meat on the table.
But times have changed since then, and fishing and hunting is a sport rather than a necessity.  We no longer kill game, rather we “harvest.”  We spare no expense in this recreation, spending money on top dollar guns, clothes, gear and anything else we think we need or would help us in the field.  I recently took a look at what I’ve spent planting the dove field and getting it ready to hunt, and I wonder what the costs per dove will actually be.
When I was in college, I took a recreation economics class, and I remember the professor saying something about including a person’s time in the models to determine how much a trip is worth to the person.  So, trying to remember the concepts the professor taught, I set out to estimate the value of this dove field to me.
Let’s see, I’m lucky and there isn’t any cost for the land, but there is the cost of fertilizer
and seed, and weed kill;
 oh I shouldn’t forget the cost of the soil test.
There’s the time I went to test the soil, I think it was 1 hour, and the time plowing, and
time planting.
Let’s see, time in the field times my hourly pay rate;
carry the 1.
Oh, what about travel costs?  Number of miles times the government mileage rate;
cost of the hunting license, shells, water ….;
total the factors.
How many dove will I take?  How often will I hunt? OK, maybe I’ll hunt four times in the first season, three in the second; 
Maybe I’ll average 8 birds a hunt, hopefully more.  56 birds divide by the total.
That comes out to about $583.60 per pound.  Wow, I could buy a lot of Kobe Beef with $583. 

Of course, you are probably not paying this much to hunt nor spending as much time to prepare for a hunt.  But if you spend 3 hours in the field to take your limit of 15 doves, you’re not only a good shot, but you’re also valuing the hunt at least from $25 to $50 per pound.  (Sorry Dad, your gun is not going to pay for itself with meat on the table).
That is a hefty price, but it’s not the point.  The point is that I’ve enjoyed working on this field, and I can’t wait for this fall season.  There’s time spent with family and friends, trying to figure out what I need to do to get dove’s to fly in the field.  I’m not sure we will go as far as to call it “harvesting;” I still call it dove hunting, and it’s worth it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Little Bragging

A little over a week ago, Johnny, his son George, Sydnie and I met at the fields to plant a couple of quail plots.  Afterwards, we shot a few clay pigeons.  George was on, I was off and for some stands, way off.  I need a lot of time on target before the seasons start.  Even so, I do have some bragging to do.
A couple of years ago, some friends of ours visited us from out of town.  Jay is a golf pro, so I took a day off work and arranged for us to play a new course in the area.  I don’t golf and I didn’t learn much, but I did take Jay’s advice on bragging.  When a golfer returns and someone asks how he did, the answer is always a brief mention of what he did best.  Jay got a birdie on the fourth hole, I one putted the 8th green.  Get the picture?

Who Shot That Bird?

Despite my bad day at skeet, I do have some bragging to do.  Every time I’ve shot at a bird on Johnny’s land, a bird has fallen.  Sure, I haven’t done much wing shooting there, just a couple of quail hunts and two duck hunts, one of which I didn’t get a shot.  Sure there was the quail when both my father-in-law and I shot at the same time, and no one knows who hit the bird.  But so far, each time I’ve shot while bird hunting on Johnny’s land, the bird has fallen.
OK, enough bragging.  I’m sure my streak will end on the first dove hunt this season.   I’ll need a lot of time on targets this summer in preparation for that hunt.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rain is a Good Thing

I know floods have devastated parts of the country and the folks affected by these floods don’t want to see any rain, but in Georgia a drought over the past few months has ruined lawns, crops and the Dove Field. Finally, the rain has started to fall here, but when I go to the radar on the internet, it seems as if there is a black hole around Johnny’s land. Storms approach only to break apart just before they reach the Dove Field I’ve planted. It seems there is a black hole above the field sucking all the moisture out of any cloud that could provide the much needed water.
Over this past weekend, my daughter Sydnie and I took the trip to Johnny’s land just to see how the field was progressing, as well as to formulate a plan for replanting the drought stricken crop. I’ll admit that as we drove up to the field my thoughts were centered on where I might be able to purchase more millet seed over the 4th of July weekend. I fully expected that we would need to replant most of the field. The fun of imagining multitudes of doves swarming in to waiting guns had vanished from my thoughts, and the concerns of growing a crop in a drought weighed heavy upon my mind.
First view, things are progressing nicely

So we arrived, and after some minor equipment repairs to Johnny’s truck and catching up with him and his son George, we checked the rain gage. Two inches; thinks were looking up. But had the field sustained itself enough to recover? Sydnie and I hopped on a four-wheeler and headed to the field for the answer. Much to my delight, things were progressing nicely.

Sydnie standing next to a thick patch of Millet

You know I’m not a farmer and the field is by no means perfect. But the Millet we planted three weeks ago is coming up, the Sesame is flowering, and the Brown Top Millet is starting to produce seed heads. There are a lot of weeds, but for me, that’s okay. Most of the weeds are grass, which will produce seed for the doves as well as the millet and the sesame. The good news is that I didn’t have to find a place to purchase more seed.
Rain is a good thing and has made everyone happy.

The best news is that the rain has brought my thoughts back to what the field will be. There’s a song by Luke Bryan called Rain is a Good Thing because rain makes corn, and corn makes whiskey. For me, rain is a good thing because rain makes Millet, and Millet feeds doves, and friends and family will pile in the field for a good southern dove shoot this fall.