Story & Photography by John Dunaway
Through those blistering sunny days of the Texas summer, the idea of finding shelter beneath a mesquite tree rarely graces our minds. We have opted for life closer to the water, attempting to cool down in the coastal bays or leisurely floating the brisk rivers of central Texas. Hurricanes keep our focus on the weather, but as that season nears an end, showers gradually increase and the possibility of a cool breeze become more frequent. When those ideas grace our minds, it’s a sure sign hunting season is quickly returning to Texas. In our case, it kicks off with the first waves of migrating teal and doves scattering the skyline. Just like that, the long months of waiting have come to an end, so we loaded up for a few hours drive south to Falfurrias, TX to take solace amongst the mesquites of Laborcitas Creek Ranch.
Frequent showers have transformed the sandy soil into a landscape of scattered potholes. Although encouraging for teal, we have set our sights on the afternoon hunts for mourning dove which graciously inhabit this landscape. Still early in the season, reports are encouraging that the dove are indeed here in strong numbers. With this known, we opt to stow our gear in the gunroom for later. Just having received our Decibullz Percussion Filters before hitting the road, Doug and I take this time to mold them for the perfect fit. A coffee cup of piping hot water from the kitchen does just the trick to facilitate our needs. The pace of life on the ranch encourages us to kick back, but it has been a few months since last duck season so a round in the skeet range is a strong choice between us. After a few clays, we are both satisfied that both our aim and the fit of the Decibullz are ready for those doves.
The sky is mute, with a blanket of stratus clouds, but they are not showing signs of dropping any rain on our parade this afternoon. Packed and ready in the dove rig, we set off from camp for a drive into the field. The rig splashes through puddles as Doug’s dad points out a covey of quail flushing out ahead. Doves float over the mesquite trees and soon enough we are sitting amongst those very mesquite trees, watching mojo wings spin their encouragement to the passing birds. The light crack of 28 gauge over & unders begin to break the silence. Dogs are eagerly running into the open spaces to return our birds, exchanging spent shells for new ones so we may reach our afternoon limit. Before you know it, 15 doves are hanging off my strap. With my lab, Nixon, laying proudly beneath his retriever work, I unload my gun, tag the Decibullz plugs out of my ears and crack open that cold beer which has been patiently waiting. Doug gives a thumbs up of approval and I can’t help but smile at how good it feels to be miles from the city, taking in the vast landscape of South Texas. Our efforts in the field will soon cook over mesquite coals and nobody will be able to contain their smiles then.