Dove season has arrived; birds available despite drought
Dove season is here, and despite the hot, arid summer, birds seem to be plentiful as the season starts.
“There are plenty of doves around,” said Rocky Pritchert, migratory bird coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in a recent department news release. And what applies in Kentucky pretty much applies to the southern Indiana side of the river.
“It’s a mixed bag. Some dove fields are looking good while some were affected by the drought,” said Pritchert.
Indiana’s dove season opened Sept. 1 and continues through Oct. 23. The it will closed and reopen Dec. 9 and run through Christmas Day. This late season is primarily for migrating birds. The daily limit throughout the season is 15 birds.
According to Rocky, hunters who put in a little time scouting before hunting a particular field place themselves at an advantage.
“The first thing I look for when setting up in a dove field is a dead tree or snag,” Pritchert said. “Then, I look for the flight patterns of the doves. Survey where they enter the field and where they exit. Find the entry spot and set up near there. It is better to find a place where they enter the field than where they exit.”
Doves often fly into a field through gaps in trees or a swale in the ground. “A dead tree that is in one of these flight patterns is a great spot,” Pritchert said. “They often land in dead trees before entering the field to feed.”
Doves also use power lines for the same purpose. Studying these features and setting up near them makes for a much more eventful day. A poorly chosen spot in a good field leads to frustration when others down all of the doves. It is like watching someone from the opposite end of the boat catch all of the fish. Study and choose wisely.
For many hunters, dove season is part hunt, part social gathering, and part ritual for many. It is a time for renewing old friendships and making new ones. Its a time for camaraderie, tall tales, hunts remembered, and some lip smackin'’ outdoor cookin'’.
Dove season also is ideal for introducing young people to hunting. It’s still relatively inexpensive. September weather is ideally suited to the young hunter who isn’t ready to handle the cold of a duck blind or goose pit.
There also isn’t as much need to remain motionless and silent for long periods of time, although the less motion the better when birds are incoming.
There is plenty of time for snacks and moving around. There usually is considerable action. And it is just fun whether you down many doves or not. During hunts, there is ample time for conversation as you wait for the next flight of those gray bird versions of the Thunderbirds.
Doves are a dark meat with a flavor somewhat like liver. Some people say they don’t like the meat, but properly prepared, doves are great eating.
My favorite way to prepare them is to marinate the breasts overnight. You can make your own or buy a commercial marinade.
The next day, wrap them in in bacon like rumaki, and cook them on a charcoal grill. They make a great meal-starter, or if you have enough, a main course themselves.
Proper preparation of doves is important. There are many good recipes on line. Find one you like and you’ll find dove mighty tasty.