C.A.S.H. Letters to the Editor > 2007

C.A.S.H. Letters

TX - Dove Hunting

Dallas Morning News

To The Editor:

Ray Sasser wrote about three generations of a Dallas family dove hunting in Scurry County, when he should have been writing on the needlessness of dove hunting.

Doves are not a safety threat, are not overpopulated, and do not degrade any part of the environment. Despite this, Texas hunters will slaughter more than seven-million of the harmless birds this season solely for recreation.

Hunting has contributed to significant declines in dove populations in the Eastern, Central and Western Management Units where dove hunting is legal. (Dolton, D.D., and R.D. Holmes. 2002. Mourning dove population status, 2002. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Laurel, Maryland. P30.) Letís hope that hunters do not push doves to the brink of extinction, as they have done with the Passenger pigeon, once thought to be the most populous bird in North America.

Thankfully, interest in hunting has been on a steady decline over the past decade. As interest in hunting wanes, wildlife watching has become the wildlife-related outdoor pursuit of choice, and the Parks and Wildlife Department should change with the times and promote wildlife watching over its archaic hunting programs. To protect wildlife and habitat while promoting a more peaceful world, please visit www.wildwatch.org.

Joe Miele, Vice President
Wildlife Watch, Inc.

Dove hunting fills this generation gap
Opening weekend unites three members of family in field

September 8, 2007
By RAY SASSER / The Dallas Morning News
[email protected] 

Three generations of the Dallas-area Baker family hunted doves together in Scurry County opening weekend. The clan patriarch, Clarence Truman Baker, lives in Dallas. His son, Randy Baker, lives in Plano. Randy's son, Braden, is a freshman at Abilene Christian.
"Three-generation hunts are always special," said Randy Baker, a real estate consultant. "But never more so than when the patriarch is over 90. My dad will be 91 on Nov. 6, and we consider it a blessing every time he takes to the field."

Clarence Baker, a retired salesman of oilfield equipment, grew up in Tennessee where he learned about hunting from his own father. He started following his dad on quail hunts when he was big enough to negotiate briar patches and fences.

Randy Baker said his father started carrying a shotgun and shooting quail when he was 12, and he hasn't missed a hunting season since, not even during the war years when he was a P-38 pilot in India and Burma.

"Dad's quail hunting career may be coming to a close," Baker said. "He doesn't have the stability needed to walk on uneven ground. He can still walk great on level ground. Dad plays golf three days a week and he walks the course with a pull cart. He shoots in the 80s and low 90s."

He shoots a shotgun even better. The senior Baker filled dove limits on both days of his weekend hunt. Hunting experts rank mourning doves among the most difficult targets for any wing shooter. The small, gray speedsters come at you from all angles, often flying at speeds in excess of 40 mph.

Randy Baker, who in previous seasons coached his son to success in the dove field, has become his father's dove coach these days. Clarence Baker still sees well, but he sometimes needs help in spotting approaching doves. Randy sits next to his dad and points out incoming game.

The elder Baker shoots his 12-gauge autoloader from a seated position. His son takes the more difficult shots that require twisting shotgun swings.

"When I was a kid, Dad was a phenomenal shot," Randy Baker said. "In fact, I used to think that he never missed. These days, Dad will tell you that he misses a lot of birds that he used to hit, but he still makes some incredible shots.

"There's no telling how many rounds he has fired, how many birds he has taken or how many miles he has walked in nearly 80 years afield. He's a real inspiration to a lot of people."

The senior Baker still mows his own yard and cleans his own swimming pool. He grew up on a farm where he learned the value of hard work and the importance of staying in good physical condition.

Last season was a poor year for Texas quail hunters but Clarence Baker still managed to shoot a few birds while hunting with his son. This season promises to be much better in terms of quail production. Randy Baker is thinking about rigging a utility vehicle so he can drive his father close to where the dogs have pinned a covey.

Maybe then, Clarence Baker can maintain an enviable string of quail hunting seasons.


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