The Armchair Outfitter

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The End of an Era

September 15th, 2009 · 15 Comments

For the last twenty-four years, I have hunted the opening-day weekend of the Tennessee dove season in the same place with the same people. Since junior high, my friend Trevor’s dad Houston has put on a big wing-ding at his house. Friends from Louisiana bring crab, shrimp, and oysters for a Friday-night feast, and Saturday night after the hunt we eat barbecued ribs. For my core group of friends, the ones I love even when we’re not on speaking terms, this hunt is the central ritual. Like the biblical Jubilee, the dove hunt ends all grievances, settles all debts. That’s the way it has always been . . . until now. People grew older, moved away, died, and for the first time I can remember, the dove hunt didn’t happen this year. Since I got the word, I’ve been feeling despondent and old. I haven’t had much interest in writing or in anything else. My friend Raimey says nothing is static, and the Sporting Wife says you can’t escape change; but I fear change, and in general, I am against it.

Raimey invited me to come and hunt the opening day of the Alabama season at Kirk’s farm. R.J. would be there also, and it would be a chance for the Kansas-trip hunters to reunite after I had to skip last year for work reasons. I accepted of course, and I was almost as anxious to see my “new” friends again as I would have been to see the old gang, but I was still a bit down in the mouth. Preparing my things for the trip, I found an old metal folding chair in the garage. This was one of the chairs used at the Tennessee dove hunt and inadvertently brought home in the back of my truck years ago. I decided to take the old chair to Kirk’s as a link to all of the Tennessee hunts.

The day of the hunt, we met in the field for barbecue sandwiches and cold drinks before legal shooting time began at noon. We all took our places, and both birds and lead were soon flying. I was using a side-by-side double that I’m not too familiar with yet, and for a while, I shot poorly. Everything seemed wrong. I don’t think I could have hit the ground with my hat. As the afternoon wore on, however, I began to relax. I tried to put my depression about the “glory days” out of my mind and focus on the present. I started having fun, and while I didn’t put on a Tom Knapp exhibition, birds were falling to my gun. Sitting on my metal chair in the blistering sun with a big stupid grin on my face, I didn’t feel any older than when I went on that first Tennessee hunt. No, you can’t escape change, but at just the right moment, you can stop time.


Waiting for birds to come over back in the glory days.


Hershey wants to see some birds too.


Apparently, dove hunting involves a lot of sticking out your tongue for Hershey and the Sporting Wife.

Tags: Upland Hunting

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Theresa // Sep 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Yes, it’s all too true – life does go on, but aren’t the memories wonderful? I thank God that He does give us precious times to remember and always seems to open a new door for us when the old doors are closed.

  • 2 armchairoutfitter // Sep 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Yep, it’s just like I always say, “When one door closes, break a window.”

  • 3 Theresa // Sep 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Yep, and pray that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.

    PS Hershey sure was a sweetie, wasn’t he?

  • 4 armchairoutfitter // Sep 17, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I think that’s the same day Hershey put a chop block on an older gentleman, almost knocking him down in an effort to retrieve a bird the gentleman was in the act of picking up from the ground. The gentleman was not as taken with Hersh as you and I were.

  • 5 ccloud32 // Sep 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    The end of an era or the beginning of a new one? Many memories from those past years but a new tradition will emerge bro!

  • 6 JimboFishman // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Hey I have an idea…lets go tuna fishing…off of the LA coast….in about two weeks from today…then lets have so much fun we HAVE to do it every year……just a thought.

  • 7 armchairoutfitter // Sep 25, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I like the way you think, sir.

  • 8 // Sep 26, 2009 at 5:15 am

    That was really funny! Make some more up!

  • 9 armchairoutfitter // Sep 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Folks, I can’t make this stuff up. If I did, I’d shoot better and have more money.

  • 10 // Sep 28, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Everything is looking great. Thanks for the information!

  • 11 armchairoutfitter // Sep 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I try to provide a public service.

  • 12 // Sep 29, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Thank you very much for that excellent article

  • 13 Jimbofishman // Sep 29, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    I am getting ready for the “New Tradition.”

    This weekend (the warm-up trip) Scott, Charles, and I caught 3 Large AJs, Grunts, Silver Snapper, Porgies, Black Sea Bass, Hog Snapper, and 19 Dolphin!!!!! (4 nice bulls) I even caught one bull on a spinning rod.

    Watch out Tuna here we come!!!

  • 14 John W // Oct 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Raimey and I shared some good Scotch last weekend, admiring fine doubles at the Vintage Cup. He is also an Argentina hunting partner. When the time and opportunity allow, join us there to make some new and profound dove shooting memories. Things do change, that’s for sure, just keep looking ahead.

  • 15 ellenbr // Oct 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm


    At the time of your original post, I had been in conversations with attorney “Biblical Jubilee” and chuckled each time I spoke with him. But I was glad to have you accompany me on an outing as you have many times before and hopefully will many times again. You did put some distance between yourself and Kirk, R.J. and myself which was wise, but you landed up next to Cork, who is almost on par with Kirk’s father Jack Mullican, who at one time was and pretty much still is one of the best game shots in Alabama if not the U.S. of A. So most of your birds had to have been high, but as Jack has taught us if it isn’t a challenging shot, why take it? And if you are going to shoot distance, then you must practice distance shooting. After reading your post, I reflected back to the 31 or so past years that I’ve had the opportunity to be on the dove field with my father, although we may have missed a couple and I’d have to look back. But roles have changed or reversed and he used to find the spots, get the shells, purchase the dog feed, etc. and now I do all that. I hope my father can hunt another 8 years or so until my boys can join him in the field. Either way, Kirk and I have a long row to hoe with training dogs and boys. But as Karl (Johnnie) points out the best method of training a young gun is at a proper age to get the boys in the field where there seems to be an endless supply of targets. The boys may tally up a truck bed load of spent cartridges, but the experience can teach them to make every shot count. In the field, for the moment time does slow down to a snail’s pace and I attribute it all to reference frame, or Einstein’s relativity if you want to delve that deep. A moment in the field with those in the hunting fraternity trumps about any other thought and that is what seems to suspend time, which marches on without reservation. Our brotherhood(sisterhood)/fraternity is but a small one, diminishing each year as we take on the burden of solely funding all things wildlife oriented thru our clubs, purchase of licenses, cartridges, stamps, etc.

    The pics of you that you posted truly have to be vintage as your appearance isn’t quite the same. Around Cork’s stand at the pond we had a little meeting and took up a collection to send you to the barber-shop, but a vote was taken and your cut lost out to the cost of the seed and fertilizer for the game plots.

    Kind Regards,


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