Until a wingshooter has actually witnessed hundreds of thousands of migratory birds in the air at one time, the annual dove blitz in the skies near Hondo may seem just a little unbelievable.
Brent Conger, managing partner of Paloma Pachanga Ranch, plans to make believers out of thousands of hunters when dove season opens this fall.
“There are birds here numbering in the millions,” Conger said. “Last year we had about 600 hunters out on opening day and everyone got their limit. That’s 9,000 birds in one afternoon.”
Conger also noted the white-winged dove population flocking to his fields each day was barely scratched by hunting pressure.
Conger, who has been one of the largest dove outfitters based at Hondo for the past seven years, will be doubling his operation this year by taking over his neighbor’s fields.
He will be assuming control of the Nooner Ranch sunflower fields, pavilion and lodge that was the dove day-lease juggernaut created by Sammy Nooner, known as the “Duke of Doves,” back in the early 1990s.
“What Sammy said to me was that I will now have the best dove hunting spot in the country — that is kind of overwhelming,” said Conger, 37, a San Antonio native. “I grew up hunting with my dad, and I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than watching a father and his three sons come out here to spend some quality time together dove hunting in the best place in the country.”