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By Scott Coopwood, HT.com blogger

Soon the distant sounds of “pop-pop-pop”, will be heard outside of Cleveland as dove hunters will ring in this year’s hunting season with their shotguns. My father told me when he was growing up in Clarksdale, dove hunting never entered his mind. Back then, bird hunting in the Delta consisted of shooting quail, ducks, and even geese. However, from the time I can remember, dove season has been a part of my life. For so many hunters, dove season signals the arrival of the year’s new hunting seasons and the thrill is contagious.

The dove hunts I remember as child always consisted of 25 or so people surrounding a field. We hunted outside of my hometown of Shelby on fields owned by Pat Denton, Charles Heinsz, Howard Franklin, and J.W. Magee. One time when I was in my early teens, I was standing on the edge of slough when I heard something moving in a tree above me. It was a opossum. I shot it and thinking it was dead, I slung it over my right shoulder and started walking toward my father who was across the field in order to brag a little on my big kill. I had not walked ten yards when that opossum bit me on the back of my right leg and it took out a chunk of flesh. I immediately let go of its tail and the moment the opossum hit the ground he ran like a racehorse to the woods. Apparently, I had missed when I shot and the blast from the gun simply knocked him out the tree.

On another dove hunt, after settling into my spot on a field, I was quickly overtaken by a group of yellow jackets that stung me several times. I ran as fast as I could from that spot leaving my shotgun, shells, and everything else. I talked one of my childhood friends into going back and retrieving my gun and shells. He received more stings than I did. Not to be deterred, he and I then bribed another friend with a six pack of cold Cokes into retrieving my gun. Our friend was smart. He found a hunting coat in the truck, some gloves, a hunting face-mask, and my father’s sunglasses. He walked right to the spot where the yellow jackets quickly swarmed him as well. He slowly picked up my gun, shells, and brought them to us without getting stung. He accepted the Cokes, but also wanted two boxes of shells as a bonus.

Like most outdoorsmen, our hunting stories and memories are pretty tall and also endless. This will be my 45th year to open the hunting season with a trip to the dove field and I can’t wait for the rest of the seasons to begin as well.

Good luck this year with your hunting excursions and always put safety first and foremost above everything else.

— Scott Coopwood is the owner and publisher of Delta Business Journal, Delta Magazine and The Cleveland Current. He can be reached at scott@coopwood.net

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