Niki Jones of Sure Shots Magazine shares with us how the ladies of Texas spend a day of class and firepower.
When I received an invitation to a dove hunt from the famous Renee Blaine, Shotgun Instructor Extraordinaire, I knew right off that this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill bird hunt. Renee happens to run with a particularly fabulous crowd—very successful (and very style-conscious) women. And, I should mention, they’re all amazing shooters! I had already met some of them, and I couldn’t wait to meet the rest.
I arrived at Renee’s friend Cindy’s 500-acre Rocky Creek Ranch, in Watson, TX (about an hour north of Austin) at 2:00pm. The ladies were already there—Nicole, Cindy, Janna, and Renee’s super-cool sister Barrie, who put a jalepeño margarita in my hand. I loved them all immediately (and not because they brought the tequila!). After introductions were made, we piled in Renee’s Polaris Ranger and took off on a tour of the ranch.
Cindy’s ranch is beautiful. Hilly and wooded, it has long winding roads, big rolling fields, and ponds. The weather was in the low 70’s and sunny that day, which couldn’t have been more perfect. More than an hour later, we made our way back to our starting point, where Renee had already set up a trap thrower (the machine that launches clay pigeons into the air), for us to practice our shooting and get warmed up.
Nicole handed me a gorgeous brown leather Galco shell pouch to strap around my waist, and Renee handed me my shotgun for the day—a Merkel 2000E 12 gauge, and filled my pouch with shells. We were ready to rock!
We rotated around the clays, shooting in pairs, playing “cleanup”, where one person shoots and if they miss, the other person shoots and “cleans up” their shot. The problem with that game with this group of girls was that no one missed the first shot! hese ladies casually bring those shotguns up as if they don’t have a care in the world, which is actually a great technique, as Renee had taught us in her Sure Shots Shotgun clinics. Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait and line up the sight. Just trust your instinct and shoot as soon as you get that gun up to the clay. We spent an hour or two shooting clays, and it couldn’t have been more fun.
Soon, the sun got low, and we set out once again in the Ranger, down to a beautiful field lined with thick woods. We split up into two groups—Janna and Nicole about a half a mile from Renee, Barrie, and me. Slowly but surely the doves started flying overhead, usually in groups of about 5-7. They usually came from the woods behind us, so we had to be quick. Renee and Barrie took shots at the first group that flew over, and they each got one right off the bat. We could hear the gunshots of Nicole and Janna alternating with our own. Janna and Nicole got 17 doves, and we got nine.
As the sun began to set and dusk was upon us, Janna and Nicole joined us at our spot. Suddenly, tons of people began to appear, one truck by one. These were all friends of these ladies—men, women, kids—and they parked, lowered their tailgates, and began setting out food. Barbecue! Smoked salmon with onions and capers! Deviled eggs! Cheese! It was awesome.
And then, right before the sun disappeared for good, Nicole quietly stepped out into the field and took aim at the ONE last dove in the sky. One shot, and she took that dove down. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.
Niki Jones is the Founder and President of Sure Shots, Texas’ Women’s Shooting League, as well as the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Sure Shots Magazine. She has been featured on ABC News’ ‘Nightline’, CNN’s ‘Erin Burnett OutFront’, and many other news outlets regarding women and shooting. Niki is a certified pistol instructor and also holds her state commission as a Personal Protection Officer.