I’m pretty excited for bird season this year. That’s nothing new, though. I’m always ready for bird season. Any hunting season is welcome, but I always have better luck with birds than with big game. And bird season doesn’t end when you get your limit. It just ends for the day. You start with a clean slate the next day.
At least until you have your possession limit. For most bird species, the possession limit is twice the daily bag limit. Keep in mind that the possession limit applies to the birds in your freezer, as well as those you bring home from the marsh. If you do a lot of shooting, you’ll also need to do a lot of eating.
But the waterfowl season doesn’t really kick off until the end of September. Until then, the birds you can hunt are blue and ruffed grouse, doves, snipe and rail. Those seasons, as well as the dark goose season in the Pacific Flyway on the western side of the state, start on Sept. 1.
We still have a few weeks before the bird season opens. I’ve been getting in the spirit by breaking clay targets every chance I get. Not only is shooting trap, skeet and sporting clays a good way to get in the mood for hunting, it’s also good practice. If you have a place to shoot, a target thrower of your own and a partner to practice with, you can tailor your practice to the types of birds you’ll be hunting.
If you expect to shoot at upland birds, have your buddy fling the targets out in front of you. Most of the shots you’ll get on grouse are going-away shots. For doves, have your partner fling the clays from the side to simulate passing shots. Keep safety in mind, though. Don’t position your thrower in the line of fire. That means you can’t practice incoming shots, unless your trap has a remote trigger or a really, really long string.
Sporting clays can get you used to a variety of different shots, but it can frustrate you to no end. Sporting clays may be sporting for the clays, but it’s aggravating as heck for the shooter.
Whatever you do to get ready for bird season, have some fun while you’re doing it.