I've been nervous about this moment since I moved to the mountains of North Carolina back in February. For all that Appalachia has to offer; fantastic scenery, unlimited hiking, diverse eateries, slow food, the No. 1 beer city in the country (Asheville), a vibrant music scene ... the region is NOT held in high regard for its abundance of game (with the exception of wild turkeys, which are everywhere). Up until this point, virtually all of my hunting experience has come from the Coastal Plain, where white-tailed deer are often so abundant they are consider a nuisance, waterfowl winter in huntable numbers and small game opportunities abound. I had the best hunting season of my life last year on the Coastal Plain, bagging five deer and various and sundry ducks, doves and rabbits. In western NC, I've heard the deer population is spotty and ducks are virtually non-existent.Now that dove season has been underway across the state, my pals from back east have been sending photos and e-mail accounts of their hunts and in doing so, gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get out in my new environment and start figuring how I'm going to fill my game freezer this year and the years to come. I started by taking stock of my assets.
|The mourning dove|
|A freshly emerged question mark|
But, regardless of the scenery, the habitat and the great work that has been put into the place, Sandy Mush was a bust when it came to doves, at least during my hunt. For whatever reason, the birds simply weren't there. Maybe I was between migrating waves, or the doves had gone elsewhere after getting shot up during the first week of the season. Maybe the place never has very many doves. I'm not sure why, but I'm going back to try to figure it out. I've got a freezer to fill you know.