Musings From Afield

On The Back Page With Daryl Gay

Daryl Gay | September 26, 2019

Strangely enough, even after all these years, it was something I’d never seen beside a dove field. There’s probably not a brand of tractor or combine or harrow or tedder or bush hog or hay mower or… you get the drift… that I haven’t shot over or around.

But an airplane?

It was sitting there minding its own business while a slightly shady swarm of shooters-to-be soaked up shade and specs from the shoot organizer before heading out into steel-mill heat. 

Just so’s you’ll know, I ain’t much on airplanes. Learned to walk, swim and drive but somehow never managed to master the art of flapping myself off the ground.

Possibilities here, however, seemed intriguing…

My favorite barbecue joint—just stay with me—cooks hams and butts at 120 degrees for 15 hours, give or take a drool. With that in mind, figger that IF, just MAYBE, later on, I’m in the middle of that no-shade dove field, well on my way to becoming medium rare and just short of undergoing sauce application, and there ain’t no birds flying out of the nearby trees because they’re smart enough not to flap their way into heat stroke, and I just can’t take it any more…


Just think about it; this could work!

And while you’re at it, notice I said “WE.” 

Because you bet yer brogans that ‘Big Chief Feets On The Ground’ here ain’t nohow got no plans to get no more than head-high when it comes to no airplane.


I have a mental picture—admittedly black and white with title cards—of a diving, hawk-like buzz, bottom of the fuselage almost skimming the pines; yeah, that oughta get the birds flying!

But who’s doing the skimming?

For starters, there’s the plane’s pilot and owner. Who also happens to own the field and the surrounding countryside we’re nestled in. He’s also one of the top three nicest guys on this or any other planet. His only shortcoming is that he’s a truly brilliant individual who ain’t never gonna fall for one of my hairbrained schemes.

Which could POSSIBLY involve creating a diversion requiring his presence in Alabama—via interstate—while WE get that plane up.

OK, back to square one…

Oh, I got options. Believe that!

A certain constituent of the gaggle caught my eye as he circled the craft, interestedly oohing and ahhing. This here’s what I’m a’thinking.

First off, he’s a dead ringer for Festus Hagan. (Right, Gunsmoke.) Or maybe Jake The Hermit in his younger years. Assuming he had any.

Secondly, considering the gape on his mug, does he even know what this thing is? Or believe a pterodactyl touched down to share lunch?

Further, as he fondles the door handle, is he touching to see if the creature moves or does he actually recognize that this is a handle? Attached to a door?

I don’t like the way the beady eyes shift suddenly sideways to cover the crowd. Look, dude, there’s no way you’d ever be able to pilfer this plane and make it to the pawn shop without need for extreme lead extraction from each of your extremities. There must be 25 shotguns within easy reach…

Final determination? He ain’t no pilot but would probably make a decent patterning target at about 60 yards.

What you gotta remember here is that all this is merely premature conjecture. We ain’t even made it to the field yet; there may be forty’lemmem birds just daring us to show up and shoot. Wouldn’t know yet.

 Well, I, for one, am ready to take ’em up on it, and so are my two lifelong (theirs) companions, who love tagging along with Dad to a bird field second only to Dad. They’ve been doing this more than 20 years now and have brought along the proper restraint devices to prove it.

I get a little carried away sometimes. In a variety of vehicles. None of them airborne.

Now that we’re back on solid footing, let us wade into the millet.

Wait. What’s that? Gunshot? Two shots? Nine? Forty three?

See where all that worrying about airplanes and birds hunkered in trees gets you?

“Over your head… straight up… to your left… Daddy, are you awake?”

I ain’t even got to my spot yet and already I’m getting hollered at. That waist-high greenery  just ahead—between my boys—looks tolerable for dropping and plopping. That way I can sit benignly by beaming with pride as they put their skills on display.

And if you believe I just sat and watched, you’re dumber than a box of rocks!

The three of us comprise roughly the most competitive clan since Huns shot them European doves.

If there’s only one bird blasted between us, you’re looking at a two-hour, three-way wrasslin’ match likely ending with feet, feathers and a beak each leaving in a different direction.

Speaking of which, fondly, I do happen to recall an instance during which we were all up and wandering around, eyes to dirt, looking for a trio of downed birds. Then all making our different ways back to the buckets, birds in hand, and on with the competition. Er, dove shoot.

In the overall scheme of things, a hunter/dad’s life doesn’t get much better than that, even if I am still paying off the loans for shotgun shells taken out when the fellas were 12 and 10. But let’s look on the bright side: at least I never had to buy a plane…

Order your copy of Daryl Gay’s books, “Rabbit Stompin’ And Other Homegrown Safari Tactics,” $19.95 plus $3 S&H and “Life On the Back Page,” $14.95 plus $3 S&H from or 16 Press, 219 Brookwood Drive, Dublin, GA, 31021.

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