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Ray Sasser: Tyler hunter builds own dove blinds

Alan Haynes is not as mobile as he once was, but the Tyler sportsman still hunts doves every chance he gets. He derisively calls himself “No Talent Alan,” but he’s being modest.

Haynes, 77, still hunts doves with a .410 Remington 1100 auto-loading skeet gun that won’t fire anything but 2 1/2-inch shells. That means he’s shooting a half-ounce of pellets, as opposed to the full ounce of shot that most good 20-gauge loads hold.

Shooting fast-flying doves with a .410 is the ultimate wing shooting challenge. On opening weekend of dove season, Haynes was struggling with another problem. The vision in his right eye, his shooting eye, was about 80 percent.

In the spring, Haynes was crappie fishing when his lead-headed jig got hung up in brush. Haynes was fishing from a pier. He tried to free the jig without success. Then he decided to just break the line, which wasn’t as easy as he expected.

As he put maximum strain on the monofilament line, the jig suddenly came loose and shot toward Haynes at a speed to which he could not react. The lead portion of the jig hit his right eye with such force that it almost knocked him out. Haynes sat down, thinking he might lose consciousness and fall into the water.

In great pain, he headed for a doctor. His doctor told him he would never see out of his right eye again. Two eye surgeries later, he’s miraculously regained most of his vision, though the eye still bothers him, particularly in the bright sunlight.

Still, I saw him make three doubles on doves, one of them at about the farthest range you can down a dove with a .410 shotgun.

To make the shots close enough for his small-bore shotgun, Haynes built his own dove blind. Most dove hunters stand next to a tree, a tall sunflower stalk or anything else they can find to break up their outline. Many of them lower their profile by sitting on a “dove bucket” with a swivel top that allows them swing the shotgun with a passing dove.

Like all birds, doves have terrific vision aided by an aerial viewing perspective. Looking down, the birds fly around any threat they see.

Haynes bought a strip of camouflage material from a sporting goods store. At a farm and ranch store, he bought plastic T-posts and zip ties. He used the zip ties to connect the camouflage to the T-posts.

The lightweight T-post, designed for holding up electric livestock fences or advertising signs, has a built-in step that’s used to sink the pointed end into the soil and anchor the blind. Haynes uses five T-posts. The whole contraption weighs about five pounds and rolls up for easy transport. Haynes figures he’s got about $20 invested in each blind. They also would work well for duck hunting and, in some situations, deer hunting.

“I like to stand up when I shoot, but the dove buckets are so low that I have trouble standing up quickly enough to make the shot,” Haynes said. “I found some inexpensive bar stools that put the hunter higher and make it much easier to stand up. The bar stools have a back, so I can lean back and be more comfortable. They also swivel, and I can shoot sitting down if necessary.”

The bar stools cost less than $30 and range in height. Haynes uses a stool that’s 29 inches off the ground. It’s a good setup for any dove hunter who lacks mobility. Haynes mostly hunts waterholes where doves approach on a predictable flight path. He uses spinning-wing dove decoys to influence the approach. Such decoys work great so long as the decoys are where the doves want to go in the first place.

Anytime you can hide from doves, you’ll get better shots.

Calendar

Through Sunday — Southwest RV Supershow at Market Hall, 2200 N. Interstate 35E in Dallas. Visit www.southwestrvsupershow.com.

Through Sept. 25 — Statewide teal-only duck season.

Sept. 23 — Dove season begins in the South Zone.

Sept. 24 — National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Sept. 24 — Texas Freshwater Fishing Center Outdoor Expo and Bluegill Family Fishing Tournament at TFFC in Athens. Visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffc.

Sept. 29 — Second annual Lone Star Quail Forever Banquet and Fundraiser, 6 p.m. at the Grapevine Convention Center, 1209 S. Main St. in Grapevine. For details, email info@longstarquailforever.org or call Al Stover at 972-332-1612. Tickets are available at www.pheasantsforeverevents.org/event/2198.

Oct. 1-Nov. 4 — Archery-only season for white-tailed deer, mule deer and Rio Grande turkeys.

Oct. 22 and 23 — Special youth-only weekend for duck hunting in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit.

Oct. 29 and 30 — Special youth-only weekend for white-tailed deer hunting statewide and duck hunting in the South Zone.

Nov. 5 and 6 — Special youth-only weekend for duck hunting in the North Zone.