Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bling! What to do with a banded dove

Dove season starts Wednesday, and I think most of us hunters would be thrilled just to get a limit of these tasty little birds.

But what if you get a little extra somethin' somethin' in your bag, a little bling on the bird's leg?

That's simple: Report it! Just read the number off the band (you'll need reading glasses if you're over 40 like me), and report it at reportband.gov.

Hundreds - if not thousands - of volunteers all over the country spent their summer trapping and banding mourning doves so that we can learn more about these birds. The data we collected when we trapped them was only the first part of the equation - when and where the birds meet their end is when all the data comes together, but only if the band data gets reported.

If you're really lucky, you may get a reward band, which gives you cash for reporting it. We haven't put reward bands on doves in California for four years, but while most doves live short lives, it's entirely possible that some will live four or more years. (We learned during our banding training that someone once recovered a 32-year-old banded dove - astonishing!)

So, what else should you do with your banded dove? Eat it, of course!

I know a lot of people like to breast out their doves, but I strongly recommend dressing them whole, which takes about 2.3 seconds per bird, so you don't waste a bit of that tasty meat. (Really, the legs are the best part.)

To dress a dove, pluck the body and legs, clip off the head and wings with kitchen shears, clip off the tail to open the body cavity, then insert two fingers to scoop out the innards. Rinse, and you're done.

To cook them ... well, you know me, Boyfriend does all the cooking in our house, so I recommend you click over to his dove recipes.

My favorite - shown in the photo here - is Grilled Dove a la Mancha. The short version is that you salt the bird, stuff the body cavity with bay and sage leaves, paint the skin with bacon fat, grill, paint some more, dust with smoked paprika and serve (click through to the recipe for complete details). It tastes so good you'll never want to breast out this little bird again.

Have a great season!

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


SimplyOutdoors said...

Good luck to all the dove hunters who head out.

And, Holly, that picture makes me hungry.

Of course, I can't hunt doves in Michigan because our wonderful voters decided that once a dove crosses the state line it's a "song bird". And, of course, all the hunters sat idly by as this happened, too, because they didn't believe it effected them.

Anyway....I'm done.

Good luck to everyone who heads out:)

Freeloader said...

Oooooooooh. That recipe sounds amazing! What does Dove taste like, anyway? Is it similar to chicken?

NorCal Cazadora said...

Not even close - not so fatty. But it's a very flavorful meat - worth the effort to get every bite from such a small bird.

And Simply... So sorry about your situation there. Sorry even your hunting community was suckered in on that. If it's any consolation, I got NOTHING this morning. Nada. Zip. Squat. Wah!

Phillip said...

Well, no bling for me...

My day started out pretty bad, three shots at one bird... feathers, but no meat.

The afternoon, on the other hand, found my groove. Eight fat birds in my fridge right now... heading for the grill tonight.

Hopefully they'll still be up in the high desert this weekend, as we'll be up at Coon Camp Springs and ready to shoot some more!

Peebs said...

Just got back from my fav pine grove still can't believe they eat pine nuts. Got 4 and a gunneysack full of pinecones for boyfriend I'll get you guys another sack during quail season and bring them over to Delevan. Saw a big flock of bantails up there to.

Peebs said...


NorCal Cazadora said...

Boyfriend says thanks for the pinecones! And I bet those doves will taste AWESOME! I just finished cleaning a bunch - that'll be another blog post - and their crops were absolutely full of safflower and sunflower seeds. Mmmmm... yummy doves!!!!

Peebs said...

Mine were full of pine nuts not the big ones the grove I get them in is Douglasfir kinda cool getting them there they come in a lot like mallards into flooded timber.