After Wade dropped the six of us off at our spots around the big tank, it didn’t take long for the action to begin. In fact, it didn’t take a minute. When a mourning dove came barreling by in the wind, Earl dropped it with effortless precision, the first shot and the first dove of the day. As I watched him trot out into the broomweed to retrieve his bird, another dove came by, which he again dropped with one shot.

“Save some for me!” I heard someone yell jokingly.

“Over you, Ross, over you!”

Ross pounded out two shots at a pair of doves sailing fast and furiously over a tree line. Almost concurrently, I heard another shot, and looked over to see a bird falling out of the sky near the tank’s edge.

The hunt was on!

As it turned out, it was one of those blessed days in the field. The rain stayed at bay, and the cloud cover made the afternoon an unusually pleasant one. Both mourning doves and white-wings came to the tank pretty steadily, and a couple of hunters around the barn got a bag full of Eurasian collared-doves.

On my spot at the edge of the tank dam, I had more than my fair share of pass shooting. Birds leaving their afternoon roosts in the adjacent brush came by as they went to water. I had some pretty fair bird watching to boot during the breaks in the action. A big battalion of white pelicans came over, and a nice flock of blue-winged teal buzzed over me. A pair of great blue herons kept me company for much of the afternoon, and a great kiskadee showed up unexpectedly in a nearby mesquite.

Charlie, Wade’s trusted young Lab, put on a great show. At the end of the day, I had four downed birds that I couldn’t readily locate. Two were in the tall grass behind the tank dam, one was off in the brush and one more was out in the tank.

Charlie proved her mettle, locating the birds on land quickly, then diving into the water and diligently following Wade’s hand signals to locate my last bird that had floated out into the tank.

After a quick pat on the head, Charlie was off to help one of the other hunters with a lost bird. Her job, and her fun, weren’t done.