Sneaking out to go Dove Hunting with my Grandad on Opening Day

By Jeremy Lee

My grandfather, Emil Friberg, introduced me to dove hunting when I was 11 years old. You might say that hunting, dove hunting in particular, is in my family’s DNA. My grandad started dove hunting with his father when he was 6 years old, and September 1st has been a sacred holiday ever since. And my grandad never missed opening day. When he grew up and had his own family, he passed on the love of bird hunting to his two sons, and eventually six grandsons. His daughter, my mom, was offered the opportunity just once when she was young and wasn’t sure she wanted to go. Later she wished she had tried to go at an older age. I guess she made up for it when as a mom/homeschool teacher, she always let us take off school for opening day! Dove hunting has always been a family event, and even my grandad’s childhood hunting buddy, George Friend, would join us. I remember one time I needed to ride with him in his low riding Corvette, bumping along the ground to the 40’s Swing Music he loved so much. When I was younger I would be so excited to hang out with my slightly older cousin that my grandad would get irritated and say that our chattering was scaring away all the birds. But we usually limited out, and I cherish those fun times. But to my grandfather, dove hunting was serious business. He continued to arrange large group hunts for an Outdoor Sports Club, and go hunting himself, even as he began to use a walker and eventually an electric wheelchair. Since all of my memories of dove hunting are basically family outings, it is not surprising that one of my favorite memories of dove hunting involves my grandad. At the time, he had been in a nursing home recovering from an infection. Since he had not missed opening day of dove season since he was six years old, he wasn’t going to let that stop him. However, the nursing home had a 4-hour time limit on how long he could leave for an appointment and still be able to continue his care. Since we were more than an hour away from the dove fields, we got to scheming on how to sneak him out to go dove hunting. When September 1st came along, my uncle, my brother and I were ready. We had packed the handicap van the night before with everything we would need for the day. Early in the morning, we drove to the nursing home to pick up my grandad who needed to use an electric wheelchair. We had to come around the back entrance, to load him into the car because the door was closer to his room. My uncle had gotten the code to the door from one of my grandad’s nurses aides, who just so happened to be a fellow dove hunter, and understood the importance of hunting on opening day. Then we signed my grandad out at the front desk and zipped out to the dove fields. After we had gotten all the birds we were going to get that morning, we quickly loaded everything up and hurried back to the nursing home. As soon as we got back, my uncle ran inside and signed my Grandad back in. We were within 15 minutes of the 4-hour time limit. So you might say we limited out in every way that day!