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Another Successful WV Dove Hunt

October 8, 2012
By Larry Claypool - OV Times Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

The groomed sunflower and corn fields were again filled with hunters. It was the 2012 season opener for mourning doves in West Virginia.

Our location, by invitation only, was Miller Farm, on 132 acres, located in northern West Virginia (New Manchester, Hancock County).

Annually - actually for the past 13 years - John C. "Doc" Bahnsen has invited friends and neighbors to his little hunting paradise on Labor Day for a dove shoot. OVO Pro Staffer Denny Fetty and I were included this year.

Article Photos

John C. “Doc” Bahnsen (seated, front left) invited friends and neighbors to the Miller Farm on Labor Day 2012 for a dove shoot. More than 30 hunters participated that day.

Bahnsen had a full slate of 33 hunters who lined two sides of standing corn, flanked by several rows of downed sunflower stalks. I was stationed in the corn rows to shoot, not birds, but photographs of the proceedings. Fetty was stationed in the third slot on the east side of the shooting field. Local hunter Kevin Arnott and his retriever shagged downed birds throughout the day. They were kept very busy.

The weather cooperated for the event. Despite a threat of rain early, the sky clouded up for most of the day with temperatures in the mid-80s. Bahnsen forecasted the birds would start feeding on the downed sunflower plants about 3 p.m. and birds would flourish later in the afternoon. He was correct.

We suspected the hunting would be very good on this day. On our drive in along Gas Valley Road, near the Miller Farm, we noticed that the power lines were filled with doves.

Fact Box

Our location was the Miller Farm, on 132 acres, located in northern West Virginia (New Manchester, Hancock County).

A few birds wondered into the Miller Farm airspace shortly after 3. Those birds did not survive the eager hunter's scatter guns. There were surely a few misses along the way but the pointed-winged fliers were downed quickly. For the next 90 minutes or so the doves would come into shooting range 3-4 at the time from different directions, offering varied shots for Bahnsen's hunting crew.

About 4:30 p.m. the action began to pick up briskly with birds entering the area 6-8 at a time, and non-stop about 30 minutes. The hunters were quickly burning off shotgun shells and retrieving downed birds to add to their quarry. The action then slowed for about 30 minutes but picked up again. By this time most of the hunters were counting down to reach their limit of 15 birds.

The flurry of shooting action was truly exciting for me to hear, watch and witness. Since I was not shouldering a gun on this day it gave me another prospective - and appreciation - for the sport.

For Bahnsen it's all about the sport. The retired Brigadier General, originally from Georgia, has been hunting doves since he was a kid. He's also hunted birds in the hunting-rich states of Iowa, Kansas and Texas. In West Virginia, where he's lived with his wife Peggy Miller Bahnsen (she's a retired Army Lt. Colonel) for 13 years, Doc Bahnsen has shared his love and admiration for dove hunting by hosting the annual dove shoot.

Bahnsen doesn't stop there though. It's also been important to him improve the land for its wildlife through positive conservation efforts, not only on his land but on the nearby state-owned Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area (WMA). That area sports 2,212 acres that is public land that others can enjoy and hunt.

For his efforts Bahnsen has been recognized several times by the state of West Virginia through its Soil Conservation Awards program.

The retired Army General is also trying to improve the pheasant population in the area, and helped establish a new Pheasants Forever Chapter.

Along with offering a prime hunting location for the season opener, the Bahnsen's also provided lunch before the hunt. Among the invitees were several political figures to the event. Republicans, of course. On the docket, and shooting this year, were GOP West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney, U.S. Senate candidate John Raese, West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kent Leonardt and Hancock County Commissioner candidate Mark Tetrault.

Editor's Note: To see more photographs from this hunt visit the Ohio Valley Outdoors on Facebook.

 
 

 

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