I was the only car at the particular easternmost lot and had the place to myself that morning. I hiked near the roads, looking for gravel to be holding some doves, but that wasn't the case. I hiked all over the east side of the unit, then started coming into some doves as I got into a big grove of trees on the way back. I shot three doves that morning, but sadly only made it back with one.
The first shot was great. Doves flying kind of toward me and across, I picked it off but it didn't drop right away. It landed back in the bush. So I headed back there to get it. The weeds were up to my eyes and the bird was the color of the dust and the size of my fist, but I found it. As I put it in the little plastic bag on my hip, a second dove flew through my peripheral vision. I blasted it, but I realized too late there was no way to see where it would go down. I jumped and thrashed to get out of the high weeds, to see where it would land, but lost it. And in the process, the dove I had recovered had torn free. I didn't find that out until later, when I shot my third bird and tried to put it in the empty bag on my hip. I ended up putting the dove in my pocket. I ate it for dinner that night.
Pretty good day, despite the bird waste. But I'll consider it a treat for the coyotes I haven't been able to get at.
That afternoon I sighted in my gun at the Emerald Gun Club. Weird folks running that place. Maybe not running it; the guy running it has an e-mail address and I'm supposed to e-mail him if I want to become a member. The guys running the place when I stopped by didn't look like they had a street address, let alone an e-mail address. Despite the attendant's inability to form a sentence, I got him to give me some ear plugs and paid $5. Following the trigger job at Mazama's ($75 well spent), I shot like a champ and had some nice groups in the bullseye at 100 yards. But I got greedy and tried to shift my group from the bottom of the bull circle to the middle, just a last nudge on the scope settings, and messed it up. But at least I know my flinch is going away. I'll have to reshoot and settle on a shell I like. So far, I'm leaning toward Winchester Heavy Game CXP3s.
After that, I went to Shotgun Creek, looking for grouse and scouting for deer. I didn't see a single deer or even any deer sign. But I saw a few grouse. Any ideas people might put in your head about them being dumb, unwilling to fly away from you, are totally off. I couldn't get anywhere near a shot. I need to go further back on those forest roads. I tried the first good looking pull off, hiked back a mile, but no sign. I'll keep digging.
On Saturday I met up with TU Chapter 678 crew and headed out to the High Lakes region of the Sisters Wilderness. We fished the Erma Bell lakes, camped out and had a good time. There were lots of fish in Upper Erma Bell, lots of big fish in Middle Erma Bell and some REALLY big fish that nobody in our group could catch in Otter Lake. We recorded info, took pictures and measured fish for ODFW. The organization has been stocking these lakes via helicopter, but hadn't been able to check survivability and reproduction potential.
The hike in was tough, since my old school mega-backpack weighed a ton, and I hadn't known how to adjust it. But once I got it right and it stopped cutting off the circulation in my arms, it was a lot better. I tried out my super cheap camp stove and it worked awesome. I can't imagine the $100 could cook that much better than my $19 deal. But as far as gear is concerned, I do need to continue the buying spree: I need a thermarest roll; hiking socks; and two PFDs. I heard enough stories of people getting stuck in "strainers," logs on a river that hold you in place while you drown, to make me want to buy some life vests.
Katie and I explored Elija Bristow Park yesterday on the Willamette, couldn't find two Geocahes, even though we dug around for them for an hour. I did get into two nice cutthroat trout and about got run over by a bunch of elk crossing the trail.
I'm heading to Fern Ridge tonight to keep on Geocaching and maybe find a flock of geese to hunt on Friday.