Tomorrow is the opener ...can't wait!! Fields are stacked full of birds and all the ingredients are there for it to be a barn burner ...all the hard work, sweat, time, resources, and money have been invested thus far...time to reap the benefits. It's gonna be hotter than 2 rats making babies in a wool sock but that's a given this time of the year in the Lowcountry.
Good luck to everyone chasing them tomorrow. Leaving this unsaid would be a crime ..but remember to exercise common courtesy and safety whether you're shooting private or public fields...nothing makes a dove hunt, or any hunt for that matter, more miserable/dangerous than a stander who lacks respect for others in the field. Just a few things to remember...
-Do not load your gun before getting to your stand and unload it before leaving your stand. That does not mean load it as you're walking into the field...that does not mean load it and then get on the four-wheeler/golf cart/tailgate and ride into the field. When you're done shooting open your breech and keep it locked open...try to immediately clean/case your gun afterwards. Do not leave it leaned up against a table/tailgate/out in the open afterwards.
-no skybusting...pretty much self explanatory. And if you can't seem to grasp the concept of skybusting than I'm sure someone will quickly fill you in on it and let you know.
-be legal. Make sure you have a plugged gun, proper license and HIP permit. Chances are Mr. greenJeans will make a guest appearance at one point or another throughout the day. It's one of their largest profitable weekends because of the volume of hunters in one place. They can check 10-20 hunters at one place. They aren't out there to make friends ...they are out there to do a job and usually do not cut any slack. It's your responsibility to make sure you are legal and the way I see it...it's actually disrespectful and embarrassing to the field owner/host for you to show up and be illegal.
-control your mutt...keep him leashed up if you have to. You know your dog better than anyone else and how to control him and the means necessary to. Don't be that guy that can be heard screaming bloody murder, chasing his dog all over the field while beating/scholding the dog. If you haven't worked your dog at all prior to the season opener..opening day isn't the time to do it. No one wants to hear you collapse a lung on the whistle or watch you fry your dog via a shock collar.
-make sure to keep your mutt hydrated before/during/after the hunt. Chances are you probably won't go in the field without a couple of cold drinks... so for God's sake don't take your dog out in the field without having anything for him drink either..no matter how much of a "hunting machine" you think he/she is. I've watched several dogs become deathly sick do to this and it pisses me off royally. If for some reason you forgot a bowl/water ...just ask someone, don't chance it.
-no low birds..if you find yourself doubting whether or not to pull the trigger on a bird after you've shouldered your gat ...than its low enough that you don't need to shoot. There may or may not be plenty of other opportunities throughout the day but is it really worth the risk of injuring/killing someone over a bird?!
-make every effort possible to retrieve downed/winged birds. Don't down 4-5 birds that you can't find without a thorough look before shooting 4-5 more just in case you can't find the initial 4-5 you knocked down.
-pick ALL your hulls/trash up. Make sure to take a plastic grocery bag with you into the field. Just ball it up and put it in your pocket/bag/chair/bucket. Again, if you forgot one than just ask around. We had a lease several years ago and got into some hot water with the farmer because a few of our customers left all kind of trash in the fields. We should have made a final pass through but took it for granted and assumed everyone did their part. We were in the wrong and almost lost the lease...
-leave the boozes at the hill until after the shoot. There will be plenty of time for that after the hunt. Most guys get this and its an unwritten rule but there are always a few that feel the need to "drink" before/during the hunt. Guns/alcohol don't mix ...if you want a beer or two before the hunt than so be it...but don't be drinking during the hunt ..
-don't be "THAT" guy that no one wants to be on the next stand down from...chances are, if you are "that" guy ...you won't be invited back.
-most importantly, have fun but be safe.
It's amazing at the craph I've seen seen on shoots before and I'm sure everyone who reads this has a story they can relate to in one way or another. Every opener there's always that one "incident" that you hear about from a buddy or through word of mouth that usually involves someone getting hurt...99.9999% of the time it's preventable ..