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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dove season opens Sept. 1; hunters need plenty of ammo

Kentucky youth mentor hunts are a good way to get youngsters involved in the sport. Photo courtesy KDFWR

Upcoming is a hunting season ammunition manufacturers have to love -- dove season. It opens Sept. 1 and many times more shells will be fired than birds will be shot for dinner.
The Sept. 1 opening day for mourning doves and a number of other early migratory birds is established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
While doves are a migratory bird, many don’t migrate and most of the ones available for hunting opening day will be local birds born and raised in the state. The migratory birds won’t pass through until later in the season when colder weather up north begins to push them south.
Doves sitting on a power line or scratching in a gravel road may look like easy targets, but they are just the opposite. They are very wary and can zig and zag like a plane trying to avoid a heat-seeking missile. Plenty of shells are required for a successful hunt.
Indiana’s dove season is separated into two parts. The first runs from Sept. 1 through Oct. 13. It reopens Nov. 5 and runs through Dec. 8  Also opening Sept. 1 is the season for sora rails and snipe. Early Canada goose season opens the same day and runs through Sept. 15.
While doves can be found throughout the state, their concentrations are found in agricultural areas, and their southern migration reaches northern areas first. However, most of the birds that have been seen in recent weeks are native doves from this year’s hatches in the Bluegrass state.
Opening weekend of 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.
Another good recipe comes from Uncle Russ Chittenden’s book, Good Ole Boys Wild Game Cookbook or How to Cook ‘Possum and Other Varmits Good.
Russ calls for a Kentucky limit of dove breasts (or whatever you can scrounge), salt and pepper to taste, two eggs (Dominecker preferred), Italian bread crumbs, 3/4 cup cookin’ oil, Ritz crackers (or something similar).
Remove the breasts with a sharp boning knife like you would those of a duck or goose. With luck, you’ll have 30. Salt and pepper to taste. Dip in beaten egg stuff, and coat with bread crumbs.
Fry in oil until brown, turning several times. Drain for a minute or two on paper towels. Serve “hot” on crackers.
CATFISH TOURNEY -- Taking first place in the Cabela’s King Kat tourney last weekend  at Veevay, IN, on the Ohior River was the team of Scott Cress of Covington and Carl Crone of Villa Hills, KY.
The pair weighed-in a two-day total of 142.95 pounds and earned $4,300. Scott and Carl, also winners of last year's Vevay event were fishing the Markland Pool in 25-50 feet of water where the fish were scattered on the bottom in the channel and on flats. The team used skipjack and mooneyes to catch their fish.

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