Take out those guns and think doves

OUTDOORS

August 01, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Exactly one month from today this year's dove season will kick off. This means it is time to start thinking doves.

Doves are quite possibly the hardest easy shooting a hunter is apt to encounter. Sure, they're fast and can change directions on the surface of a dime, but for the most part the gunner has a wide open shot at a bird that he probably saw sailing in his direction for the last mile or so. You will miss this bird because you have no concept of distance, haven't touched your shotgun since last fall, placed yourself so that the sun is squarely in your eyes, or a hundred other reasons.

Well, we can't possibly cover all the mistakes and corrections in the space of today's column, but we can get the gun barrel swinging in the right direction, in a manner of speaking.

First, dig your shotgun out of the back of the closet, double check that it isn't loaded and then give it a thorough cleaning. Begin by reading your gun's maintenance manual. All break-action single shots and doubles, all pump actions and auto-loaders allow you to separate the barrel from the main component part of the shotgun. Do this first.

Once the barrel is separated, go over the entire exterior surface with a degreaser, followed by fine steel wool to remove any surface rust. Next, go to work on the interior of the the barrel with a combination of clean, dry patches cut to the correct bore size, patches saturated with a quality bore solvent, and a tight-fitting brass bore brush. I recommend using patches and a brush one bore size larger than your gun's gauge. For example, use 12 gaugepatches and brushes in your 20.

Once the gun is spotless, give the metal surfaces a very light coating of oil, the wooden stock a light once over with a quality furniture polish, and the job is done.

Next, get out to the local skeet, trap or sporting clays range and shoot. I will shoot every weekend from now until opening day and if you are serious about improving your dove shooting success, you will be there too.

I favor skeet as a tune-up over the more popular game of trap. Sporting clays are becoming very popular, but the game, in my opinion, is tailored more on staying sharp than learning or honing basic gun handling. In trap, all the targets are going away from the shooter.

When you do practice on clay targets, it is important to use the gun or guns that you intend on using during the dove season and doubly important to call for the target with a lowered gun.

Come Sept. 1, you will also find that limiting out is easier and, in terms of shotgun shells, notably cheaper.

Eagle watch

The Department of Natural Resources has documented the '' residence of five bald eagles in Anne Arundel County this year. Statewide, 152 pairs of bald eagles nested in 18 Maryland counties, according to Glenn Therres, supervisor of the state's bald eagle recovery effort.

"Sixty-six percent of these pairs nested successfully, producing 168 young," he said.

This was the lowest number of young produced since 1983, due mostly to late winter storms and severe spring winds. Therres says that, "at least nine nests with eggs or young were blown out of trees by high winds."

Bald eagles nest early in the year, some laying eggs in late January. Most eggs are laid in February and early March, with the young hatching by the end of April.

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