Practice up for bird season

You have a while to wait before you can go bird hunting. The earliest bird hunting seasons don’t start until September first.

We have ninety days until the next hunting season starts. Archery season for antelope kicks off August 15th. You’ll have to wait a little longer to hunt doves or blue and ruffed grouse. Those seasons are a hundred and seven days away. They start September first.

Until then, get some practice. If there’s a trap club near you, look into a membership. Some trap clubs let you come in and shoot for a visitor’s fee. Others require a membership. But it doesn’t matter how you get access to the trap club. The important thing is that you go. Get as much practice as you can.

The beauty of practicing shooting is that it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s not like practicing piano. I had to take piano lessons as a kid, and I hated it. The lessons were bad enough, but having to practice was just cruel and unusual punishment. Shooting practice isn’t like practicing piano at all. Well, maybe the noise is similar.

Most trap clubs offer both trap and skeet. Do both, if you can. And if your club has sporting clays, you absolutely have to give that a try. Trap is a lot like hunting pheasants or grouse. Most of the shots imitate a bird flying away from you. Skeet is more like shooting at birds that are crossing from right to left or left to right, like pass-shooting ducks. They’re both challenging, and they’re both great practice.

But sporting clays is like shooting at everything. There are slow, high shots, fast, low shots, shots at targets rolling along the ground, just to name a few. It was designed to realistically imitate just about any sort of hunting you’d do with a shotgun. But harder.

It’s intensely humbling. When you start knocking down nearly everything you shoot at on the trap and skeet ranges, step over to the sporting clays. It’ll deflate your ego in a hurry.