But this has not been a normal year. We have had a few hot spells that add up to more more fingers and toes than I can muster and for the last week or so we’ve watched the patio thermometer play around in the high 90’s each day accompanied by humidity in the 80’s. I have hunting partners who think Al Gore is behind this somehow.
It’s at times like these that many San Diegan’s who lack AC head to the beach areas to cool off. What do I do? Well, for the last few days I’ve headed to the desert, exchanging temperatures in the 90’s for those in the 110 degree range, which I think is a pretty good indicator of my intelligence.
Worse, there is plenty of evidence to show that I do so with a veritable posse of like minded individuals, absolute sickos who like me are attracted to the desert for the annual September 1 opening of the dove season. That’s right, we go to the desert to swelter and risk the throes of heat exhaustion in order to protect the crops of our farmer friends from doves.
So far we have been pretty successful as not a single Imperial Valley farm, feed lot or patch of desert scrub has been foreclosed upon or taken over by the bank as a result of crop depredation caused by mourning, whitewing or Eurasian collared doves. Not one!
These are not shallow sacrifices we make. In fact they are pretty damned costly when you consider that:
The distance from our home to our duck club is roughly 150 miles each way or 300 miles for a round trip. At 15 miles per gallon in my truck and fuel prices hovering near $4 per gallon that comes to $80 for fuel alone. Add in the coffee and donuts on the way ($5), a post-hunt lunch ($10), a celebratory pitcher of beer (another $10) and a box of shotgun shells ($6) and we are talking about a base expense of $111.
While this cost may seem high, it must be factored against the food savings represented by a limit of doves we have harvested ourselves. Considering that the limit is 10 per day, or enough to feed two people and that the edible portion of a dove is about 1.5 ounces which we will call 1.6 ounces to avoid a nasty entanglement with higher math, the cost of doves works out to about……$111 per pound, which I think is quite a bargain. This cost would admittedly be higher if one were to factor in indirect expenses such as possible medical treatments for heat exhaustion or snakebite, wear and tear on the truck, food and vet bills for the dog and amortization costs for the truck, guns and related required equipment.
The season is now eight days old and I have hunted on only three of them. This means that while I have incurred expenses of $333 on the days I hunted, I saved $555 for the five days I did not hunt. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I have therefore saved $222 so far.
Over the course of the season, there could be enough saved up to consider air conditioning.