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Fishing Report

’Tis a poor hunter who blames his shotgun

’Tis a poor hunter who blames his shotgun
Tristan Torres takes aim at a dove while hunting near Pleasanton.

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Wilson County News
November 10, 2009

Those who know me, know I’m a hunter at heart. Since childhood, there have been few things I’ve enjoyed more than hunting.

Over the years, I’ve hunted a variety of animals, but most of my time has been spent in pursuit of white-tailed deer. On occasion, though, I have the opportunity to do something a little different. Most recently, that opportunity came in the form of an evening dove hunt in which my son, Tristan, and I were invited to participate. Since I hadn’t been dove hunting in many years, I jumped at the invitation.

Now, when it comes to shooting a rifle, I’m a pretty decent shot. With a pistol, I’m not bad, but my score from the recent Sheriff Santa Pistol Match was hardly anything about which to brag. When it comes to shooting a shotgun, I’m average at best, and probably pretty poor by the standards of some.

At times, I’ve tried to tell myself, “It’s not me, it’s the shotgun.” In my heart, I know that’s a lie. It’s me.

I own just one shotgun, and it’s an old Mossberg 500A. My father gave it to me for Christmas when I was a child. Even though he didn’t have a shotgun of his own, he knew how much I wanted one, but that’s a story for another time.

Now, when I’m on the range, I’m able to shatter more clays than I miss. So when I’m in the field, I don’t know if it’s some form of “choking,” “misjudging of distances,” “improper leads,” or heck, even some form of “bird fever” -- should such a thing exist -- but I know I just don’t knock ‘em down like I do at the range.

So as my son and I went on this dove hunt, my original strategy was to let him shoot my Mossberg, and I would just “advise” and “assist” him. Yeah, right. As he has done so many times in the past, though, my father-in-law came through and loaned us another shotgun.

Now, I could give you all the long and frightening details, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll say simply that I was “outperformed” by all others, including my son, who had never shot at a bird in flight.

While I couldn’t help but feel a bit down about my inability to hit birds, even when some appeared to all but stop and hover overhead, as if a gift sent straight from the heavens, I was excited for my son. He did well on his first dove hunt, and I was happy to be standing next to him as he took his first bird.

It was just an average-sized mourning dove and wouldn’t provide much of a meal on its own, but it was another “first” for my son in what I hope to be a lifetime of hunting experiences.

The whole experience made me think back to some of the hunting shows I had seen on television. I always used to feel some sort of sympathy for the guides. You know, the guides do all the work, then just watch as someone else reaps the reward of their efforts. And during the final minutes of the show, you always hear the guide spew some line about how rewarding it was for him to help someone else take an animal.

“Yeah, right!” I would think.

But now, with many more Decembers in my past, a thicker pair of glasses, and a thinning head of hair that now includes some gray, I understand what those guides were saying. I’m no guide, but as a father teaching his son to hunt, I understand the rewards that come from something other than pulling the trigger.

It turns out I didn’t care that Tristan outshot me, though it did make for a spirited conversation on the way home. Instead, I took my pleasure from passing on a love and passion for hunting -- something that’s always been important to me. Just as my father taught me to hunt as a child, it’s now my turn to do the same.

Hunting and shooting sports are a big part of my children’s lives, and I’m grateful for that. Heck, my 16-year-old daughter even told me she wanted another single-action revolver for Christmas. Tell me that’s not exciting!

So, as the year winds down and the holiday season approaches, make the time to introduce a child to hunting and shooting sports. Whether it’s your children, grandchildren, siblings, or other friends and family members, turn off the television and get outside. Guys, take your wives with you. My bet is you’ll have more fun than you ever imagined, and you‘ll instantly feel the thrill of introducing someone new to the sports we love.
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Your Opinions and Comments

Rabble Rouser Extraordinaire  
Adkins, TX  
November 16, 2009 7:05am
Robert, this year many doves had armor plating!~ It's not about the tally of the harvest...it's about the memories our children will cherish and carry on to their siblings!~ P.S. My 17 yr. old daughter is like Miss ... More ›

November 15, 2009 2:50pm
I am 29 yrs old and have been hunting since I was 9 yrs old it all started by going with my dad. Love to go every year!

Equatorial Guinea, West Africa  
November 15, 2009 1:15am
Last deer season my 9 year old was lucky enough to take his first deer and his second on consecutive weekends. With Daddy acting as guide and mentor he made clean, well placed, single shots on both animals. My father would have ... More ›

Barbara Toborg  
San Antonio  
November 10, 2009 12:52pm
Way to go Rob!!!!!!

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