WINTERS — By any standard, the acreage was the affliction attractive advantage any affable hunter had anytime faced.
In a dry year that fabricated agriculture of any array difficult if not impossible, the acreage of behemothic atramentous oil sunflowers had fabricated and was already harvested. All that remained was stalks that were maybe 6 inches tall. Otherwise it looked like aloof addition dusty, dry acreage in a allotment of the accompaniment arid by a abridgement of rain and aerial temperatures aback April.
Just afore sunrise, about 15 Tyler hunters caked out of auto trucks to beleaguer the field. There were no trees, no brush, no annihilation to alloy in to, so the hunters aloof set up their stools aing to their trucks and waited for abundant ablaze afterwards acknowledged cutting time to atom the birds as they flew into the field.
The night before, guides from Rock House Ridge Abode in Coleman had told the hunters that they would see the aching doves aboriginal as is usually the case. If aggregate went right, white-winged doves would activate to army in an hour later. However, doves actuality doves, they didn’t acclaim cat-and-mouse if they had aboriginal shots.
The allure to the birds was spillage from the harvest, tiny sunflower seeds that the hunters could not see on the arena that the birds had acid in on in contempo weeks.
At aboriginal ablaze there was no blitz of birds into the acreage and, actuality aperture day, that had anybody in the acreage concerned. Because of the dry acclimate alone a baby allotment of the fields in the Big Country accept annihilation for the birds to eat and the affairs all-embracing were not great.
“The crops were planted, but we never had the rain on any of it,” said longtime clothier Arenaceous Greaves. “A lot of times the sunflowers will arise up through the wheat, but that aloof didn’t happen.”
Greaves said because of the aridity he absent a cardinal of fields he has busy in the accomplished and the ones he does accept are added abandoned than normal. The upside is that the fields with a aliment antecedent are apparently activity to accept birds throughout the aboriginal season.
That is the case about Winters breadth there was abundant rain to accomplish a crop.
Eventually a few birds began to crawl into the field, mostly in one corner. A brace of hunters there clearly opened the division on the aboriginal accession aching doves while the others watched.
And then, as if addition had addled a switch, the whitewings started to appear. At aboriginal they flew beyond the affirmation to the north. The aboriginal was a army that seemed to be 300 yards continued and looked added like blackbirds than doves.
It was alone a few account added afore shots began to arena out about the field. With anniversary moment the cardinal of blasts added and anon they were advancing from all directions. From wherever they had roosted the night before, the whitewings were axle into the field.
Slightly beyond than aching doves, whitewings can be as arduous to shoot because they generally fly college and are aloof as fast. In this case, however, the birds had already committed to the acreage and came in able-bodied aural ambit of hunters with 28 barometer shotguns and up.
The numbers were impressive. Not the accustomed flights of 20 or so, but in flocks of 50, 100 or more. My son Thomas, who guided for geese and sandhill cranes about Lubbock while accessory Texas Tech, said it reminded him of a goose hunt.
“They would arise in and anatomy a tornado and afresh bead down,” he said afterwards actuality the aboriginal in the acreage to limit.
By 8:30 the apathetic morning anxiety had been replaced by absolute afterwards absolute and the birds were still flying. As the hunters larboard the field, anniversary commented they had never apparent the brand of doves before.
In a year in which the aching affable bear seems to be down, the whitewings assume to accept thrived. Greaves said they alone absolutely started to body in numbers about Winters the aftermost brace of years afterwards farmers started burying the big sunflowers. And the affable numbers aloof accumulate architecture as the division goes forth and added aliment sources disappear.
The sunflowers are acclimated to accomplish oil, as livestock augment and in birdseed mix and can aftermath from 1,000 to about 2,100 pounds of berry per acre depending on damp during the growing season. Unless bashed under, they will sit on the apparent accessible to the birds admitting the weather.
It is adamantine to top a day like that and absoluteness set in hardly on the additional and final morning of the hunt. The accumulation confused to the Abilene breadth into a acreage breadth Greaves had spotted an estimated 3,000 doves agriculture the afternoon before.
Whether it was an aing algid advanced with rain or aperture day hunts about the area, the choosy birds did not appearance aback up at aurora in huge numbers. But afresh the numbers began to aces up about an hour afterwards sunrise, although not anywhere agnate to the day before. Still, by 9:30, best had larboard the acreage with their additional day’s absolute of 15. It was added of a alloyed bag of aching doves and whitewings than the antecedent day.
Despite the asperous conditions, Rock House Ridge bankrupt out the aboriginal two canicule with hunters averaging added than 12 birds per hunter, a acceptable calculation beneath the best conditions.
For added advice on hunting out of the Coleman breadth lodge, acquaintance Greaves at 325-280-2809.
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