"OK. Well, geez, I didn't know there would be so many of them.
"I fly over these fields every day and there is usually hardly anyone down there."
The male paused a moment — deep in dove thought.
"Heeey! They brought in ringers! That's not fair!"
Its mate slapped her wing to her head.
"Didn't you read about all the hunters that were expected to swarm the Imperial Valley for opening season. It was in the Press."
"Don't read it," the dove said and wagged its wing. "Not enough coverage of seed varieties and shiny things."
"Well, you have a point there," his mate responded.
The female continued, "Look. We're surrounded by these beer-soaked hicks with guns. Let's just try to hole up here for a few weeks."
The male dove considered the sentiment but said, "What about food. There's nothing to eat in these dunes."
He stood up proud and straight; thrusting his breast out.
"We have no choice but to confront the hunters.
"Let's go — let's go forage for food. I'm hungry and I'm not going to live in fear of men and women who dress in camouflage and then sit in a gray cement ditch!"
With that, the doves flapped into the air.
They headed toward the edge of the dunes, scanning for any sign of hunters.
They shot out of cover and darted over a cement canal near an alfalfa field.
"Blam! Blam!" Shots rang out.
Pellets whizzed by the female doves wing. .. again.
The male dove hit the dove afterburners and pulled a hard right spin followed by a left into a barrel roll.
The female dove zigged in the opposite direction and shot down to fly closer to the ground.
She looked back after hearing the customary round of expletives from the hunters and saw her mate still darting back and forth, up and down.
"You made it, dummy! You can stop with the zigging now," she said in the practically silent mode of speech doves use to communicate.
The male dove looked back, a grin breaking out of on its beak.
"What is it? What's so amusing," the female asked.
"I owed that dove 50 bucks," the male dove said. "Ha!"
The female dove shook her head for what seemed like the 15th time since the sun cracked the horizon.
"Those clods back there really helped a brother out.
"I take back what I said earlier. Hunting season? — I love it!"
He laughed and soared high above the township of Heber.
Every once in a while he craned his neck to the left and then to the right; looking for something.
Another smile crossed his beak.
The female said, "Can we get something to eat now, huh?"
"Sure babe," the male said and they swooped toward a small private field owned by a kindly old woman who loved birds.
Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org (when he's not hunting.)