The early dove season closed last week and for me personally, the hunt was mostly a bust.
But I did have one good hunt, thanks to one of my fellow hunter education instructors, Rad Green, and to new shotgun shells I received from Jay Menefee of Polywad Inc.
Menefee sent 410 shotgun shells that he wanted me to try out on doves.
These short 2-½ inch shells are called 13 Gram Crak-R's.
What is so unique about these shotgun shells is that they are packed with a granular plastic buffer that is mixed with hard lead shot, and according to Menefee, "offers magnum performance in 410/28 gauge that have target smashing power at moderate to long range."
Menefee also noted that buffered shotgun shells cause better pellet distribution and retain speed and energy down range.
Polywad is the only commercial shotgun shell manufacturer in the world that offers buffered shells in both the 2-½ inch and 3- inch 410 shells, along with 28 gauge.
Now, here is something I found to be interesting. The normal load for the short 2-½ inch 410 is a half an ounce of shot. But in the case of the Gram Crak-R, the payload is less than one- half ounce. The shells actually weigh 13 grams, which means the shell has just .45 of an ounce of shot.
Less shot and yet magnum performance? Yes, says Menefee, and the buffering is the secret.
I headed out to Greg's Tank, which is located off of Pearce Ferry Road and Stockton Hill Road, on opening morning to give these shells a try.
Accompanying me on the dove opener were my friends, Jay and Alan Chan. They would be my independent witnesses to the field trial.
We immediately sensed that something wasn't quite right at the pond. Despite putting up a spread of 10 dove decoys, including one wing spinning decoy made by Mojo Outdoors, there were no doves to be seen flying in the area.
And there were no sounds of gunfire from other nearby waters that usually attract a lot of birds and hunters.
Before we packed it in a couple of hours later, I got a total of five shots, but managed to knock down four birds.
I gave my birds to Alan, who was heading back to Flagstaff, so he would have enough birds for at least one good dove dinner.
I was back the next day at the same tank and in two hours I got one shot, but then Rad Green came to the rescue.
He had found a spot where he had gotten 10 bird limits on the first two days of the hunt and he was willing to share the location with Jay and I.
On day three, Jay and I were at Green's spot early and got our decoy spread set out.
Then the doves started coming in, just as Green had said they would.
I missed my first shot, but knocked down the next five birds I shot at.
Then I missed three, but ran another five to finish out my limit of 10 birds.
I have to tell you that Menefee was right about these shells being "hot rod 410's".
When I did my part, this ammo put the hammer on the birds. They dropped just as quickly as the birds taken by the other hunters.
Jay was using a 12-gauge while the other hunters were using 28-gauge over/under shotguns.
Menefee told me that with a modified or full choke, I could take doves out to 40 to 45 yards with these loads. I don't doubt that statement, given how these shells worked out to 30 yards.
This ammo isn't cheap, but then again if you shoot only half as many shells when you go out, you're actually way ahead of the game.
Menefee sells his 2 -½ inch 410 shells for $145 for 250 shells (10 boxes). His 3-inch 410's are $155 for 250 shells.
For those who own 28- gauge guns and want some of this special ammo, he sells them by the box for $16, or $15 if you buy 10 or more boxes.
I can tell you that I was really impressed with the performance of this ammunition.
There are still a lot of hunters who use 410 shotguns and 28-gauge guns, who are starting to show up more and more in the field as hunters who appreciate the less recoil factor of these guns.
If you'd like to order some of this special ammo, contact Polywad at 1-800-998-0669, or visit their website at www.polywad.com
Menefee is going to send me some of these special buffered loads in 28 gauge and I can't wait to try them on our fast flying quails in October.