Doves and lead shot both flew heavily opening day over the third annual Darden Dove Shoot, a benefit shoot for the GONetwork SEEDS youth program. The shoot was held Sept. 6 in Taliaferro County near Crawfordville.
“We always have the best shoot in this part of the country,” said host Claiborne Darden.
The shoot was held over two millet fields that had been cut, baled and burned, and the birds turned out in good numbers.
After a barbecue lunch in the shade of a pole barn, approximately 70 hunters headed for the fields. The birds started flying just before 3 p.m. and flew steadily until about 6 p.m. braving a barrage of shots.
Ben Walker of Athens, on the field with his 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth, was one of the first to take a limit of 15 birds. Elizabeth had a great time serving as an accomplished retriever.
Many adult/child pairs on the fields enjoyed good shooting. Dan Traynor and his son Nick came from Cumming to attend their first-ever dove shoot. The father-and-son team piled up an impressive stack of hulls, and Nick dropped his first dove ever.
Billy Howell and his grandson Christopher Laye, both of Cumming, sat together and enjoyed the moment when Christopher killed his first dove — and he soon had No. 2 and No. 3.
Michael Watson made the drive from Donalsonville to take part in the hunt and brought his daughter Anna Grace, 5. Midway through the hunt Michael had 8 birds, and Anna Grace was an exceptional retriever — and stayed cool in a chair in front of a battery-operated fan.
Four or five 15-bird limits were taken, and on average most hunters left the field with 6 or 7 birds, a bag of empty shells and a sore shoulder.
The second half of the 2008 Darden Dove Shoot will take place this Saturday, Sept. 13. The SEEDS benefit dove shoot will be from legal shooting light until noon. The hunt will not be catered. Bring your own food and water. To reserve a spot, call the GON office at (800) 438-4663.