Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lobbing bombs at dove hunting myths

Dove season still runs for a few more days here in California, but it's over for us at the NorCal Cazadora/ Hunter Angler Gardener Cook household. We've killed our fill, and our non-hunting to-do lists runneth over.

But it's a great time to review some of the utterly moronic things the Humane Society of the United States has said about dove hunting in its effort to chip away at hunting, one species at a time.

Doves are too small to have any food value. I can think of hundreds of food items that are smaller and/or lighter than doves and still considered nutritious and/or delicious: morel mushrooms, eggs, strawberries, shrimp, fingerling potatoes, oysters, mopani worms, soybeans, pinto beans, cherries, blueberries, anchovies, sea urchins, clams, bluegills, beets, huitlacoche, Sungold Sweet tomatoes ... oh, you get the idea.

And if you'd like to see what can be done with a dove, just click on that photo montage above to enlarge the images. That's what happened to the doves we brought home last week. (We didn't even waste the bones - Boyfriend made dove stock.)

Few people eat them. Oh really? Do an Internet search for dove recipes and you'll find nearly 6 million results. Oh no, nobody out there is sharing ways to cook their kill - they just toss their birds in the garbage bin after the hunt.

Doves are shot simply for target practice. This is a slick political advertising strategy in which you take a grain of truth and distort it to meet your aims.

Here's what this lie is based on: Dove hunting is the first wingshooting season of the fall, typically starting September 1, to be followed later by seasons for grouse, partridge, quail, pheasants, ducks and geese. After a summer full of shooting nothing but skeet, dove hunting is considered an excellent warmup for the coming season.

Just because people call dove hunting a "warmup" doesn't mean we just do it for target practice. Any first bird season of the year would be called a warmup. Dove hunting just happens to be a great one because it's so challenging: Doves are wicked fast and capable of performing extreme aerobatic maneuvers. And if you're in the right spot - like I have been for the past week or so - you get lots of opportunity.

Hunters leave downed doves in the field. Another example of slick political-style manipulation here.

Yes, there are times when we can't find the doves we've shot - they land in thick vegetation, or they are simply so well camouflaged that you can't find them. You'd be amazed how invisible a dove can be on just plain dirt.

But every hunt I've been on, I've watched hunters search diligently for every dove they drop. I watched with great amusement last year as a group of men saw a dead dove on the other side of an impassible fence, and they worked together to shove a dead tree branch through the fence to bring the bird close enough for them to reach through the wire and get it.

Last Friday, I dropped two birds in a row in the same vegetation-choked canal. Both times, I plowed through blackberries and thistles, in shorts, to get to the water's edge. Both times, I ended up going waist-deep in the water. And by God, I got my birds.

So, hunters, next time HSUS tries to eliminate dove hunting in your state, step up publicly and call HSUS on its lies. And if you're going to have one of those epic dove openers where you hunt the morning and grill your kill in the afternoon, invite a lawmaker. Nothing makes a lie smell quite as rancid as tasting the truth.

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


Matt Ames said...

Amen, Holly! So true, and what an awesome way to put it.

Matt Mullenix said...

In Louisiana, the argument against killing a dove for "just two ounces of meat" would have to account for our shrimp and crawfish appetites--only about half an ounce of meat in each of those delicious critters!

NorCal Cazadora said...

I know!

The sad thing is that HSUS was successful in closing down a brand new dove season in Michigan a few years ago - and apparently many in the hunting community there were not yet sufficiently enamored with dove hunting to put up a fight. Damn shame.

The good news is that when HSUS tried to get Minnesota to shut down its new season in 2008, Minnesota flipped 'em the feather.

I consider both very strong hunting states, but the big difference is that Minnesota has resisted initiative and referendum (and anytime someone proposes it, the public says, "Are you nuts - do you want to be like California?").

That's the problem with I&R - it makes it so easy to manipulate public policy. (And lest anyone think I'm a hypocrite, I detest I&R regardless of the issue.)

Richard Mellott said...

The truth is, my backyard is home to about 6 doves, and countless other birds, all of whom are replicated by the thousands in just my small town of 200,000. There have been a population explosion of dove in California, and there is definitely no shortage of these fast-moving targets. Our hunting does not even begin to make a dent in their numbers, since we follow limits, and run out of shells, maybe not in that order. The days of the passenger pigeon extermination are over. The other interesting idea, which I read in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, is that this is a choice to live, on the part of a tiny minority of people, in close contact with their food. I think that the HSUS needs to find somebody else to pick on. Like those fatcats who have all of the factory farms that are spreading the salmonella and e-coli throughout the food supply.

David J Blackburn said...

'Do an Internet search for dove recipes and you'll find nearly 6 million results.'

Most of them involving bacon...


NorCal Cazadora said...

True dat! And of course, bacon is a beautiful thing.

But for those ready to leave wild game culinary basics behind, there is Boyfriend's dove recipe page. You'll find one recipe with bacon fat there, but no bacon.

Huntress Livy said...

Fortunately in the state of Texas we value and appreciate those tasty little morcels for more than just target practice. After a day of huntin' we gather at a friends home or ranch and spend hours cleaning and preparing dove for the bbq. With cheese and jalepinos within, we wrap our dove in bacon and grill them. It's about an experience; not just a hunt or an empty stomach! It's amazing how one little dove can bring so many people together!

NorCal Cazadora said...

It's definitely a very social form of hunting - the more the merrier, and communication in the field is encouraged.

Ha, I'd love to see the HSUS try to mess with Texas. Do they even have a lobbyist down there? I could just see them getting beat down a lot...

SimplyOutdoors said...

Ahhh.if only my fellow Michiganders would have read a post such as this before dove hunting was voted down across our entire state.

The lies were flying, the general public was buying into them, and the hunters sat idly by - believing that, if it didn't effect them, it didn't matter.

Maybe one of these days we'll get another chance.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Unless y'all start taking field trips to states where you can hunt doves, that may be tough. HSUS is big on targeting states that have just allowed dove hunting again, so it can hit before a tradition takes root.

It's a shame, though. Doves are challenging, abundant and tasty, which is why we love hunting them here.

Phillip said...

Great post, Holly. Timely and relevant and all that stuff...

In CA, there seems to be a perennial effort to ban dove hunting (although I didn't hear much this season). The lies are selling well to people who don't know any better... and they're getting right by the people who don't care.

Livy, I hope you're ready for a new neighbor down in the Lone Star State. Can't take this place much longer!

gary said...

I just struggle to understand the mentality of these folks. Do they ever have a happy day? Maybe if they make life miserable for everyone else, that is their enjoyment. Strange.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and confess that I do take the size of the animal into account. I certainly don't oppose dove hunting, but it gives me pause to take a relatively high-order life for a couple ounces of meat. (Shrimp and crawfish are a different order of animal, and I don't have a problem with those.) One of the reasons my top priority this season is a deer is that it's the most meals for the life taken.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Fair enough as a personal decision - I totally respect where you're coming from - but not for a ban. Bans should be based on whether a population can withstand hunting pressure, and mourning doves are wildly abundant.

What I hunt, and what I hunt most, is based on how much I like the meat and how much I enjoy the hunt. That's why ducks are No. 1 and pigs No. 2. I haven't quite figured out where to place doves, but they're going to be 2 or 3 after this year. Until now, I hadn't hunted or eaten enough of them to get as excited about them as I have this season. This time I've had several really good meals and really good hunts.

Phillip said...

Tamar, I see your point. From a different level, the amount of meat per animal is the reason I seldom hunt upland birds. I can't see driving three hours to hunt quail or doves on a regular basis, because the return on investment is so small. But when I lived close enough to hunt them with minimal effort (a few steps out the front door, in one case), I hunted them with relish (although I never ate one with relish...)

Holly, have you and Hank done much quail hunting yet? If you like doves, wait until you sit down to a table of quail!

Swamp Thing said...

With all due respect, Holly, I think that HSUS's impact on the sport is on a strong decline. The impact of the locavore movement on urban/suburban non-hunters has been one of ambivalence to admiration of sustainable hunting.

Add to that, our fiscal environment and the fact that non-16-cat-owning spinsters are overly concerned about things like eating, paying the mortgage, and whether their job will exist next week, and suddenly HSUS' fear campaigns about dove hunting (of all things) start to ring a little hollow to most Americans.

Whether this lasts, or HSUS gets a new angle to proceed with their usual nonsensical complaints...I just don't know. But I think by even acknowledging that they have a position (this, from a group convicted of paying off witnesses to lie in court), you are giving them some much-needed legitimacy.

Just sit back and laugh. If they come to your state, fight them with facts and science. They do not have the tools to fight either.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I respectfully disagree - and agree.

First the agreement: I'm with you 100 percent that the locavore movement is the best thing that's happened to hunting in a long time.

But, I'm not even a tiny bit concerned about HSUS's impact on our participation rates - they're not going to keep a motivated person from hunting. What I do care about is the fact that HSUS uses this propaganda to influence lawmakers and voters who don't hunt.

Just four years ago, these arguments about dove hunting definitely did NOT ring hollow in Michigan. And if you think public opinion isn't swayed anymore by HSUS propaganda, take a look at these numbskulls, who see some crap on the HSUS website and believe that Internet hunting actually exists.

Regarding not giving them publicity: That's not what I'm doing here - I am posting a clear rebuttal to HSUS' statements to share ammunition with fellow hunters who hate the lies.

Have you ever noticed how rarely I mention PETA here? It's not because I don't watch them - I watch them as closely as I do HSUS. It's because PETA is all about publicity stunts, and I DO refuse - generally - to help them by repeating their crap.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Amendment: I went back and re-read what you said and see "legitimacy" where I was thinking "publicity."

The same applies. PETA is a well-known group of hacks and whackaloons; HSUS is an effective organization, despite its publicized flaws. I think calling attention to its lies does quite the opposite of lend them legitimacy.

Swamp Thing said...

Ha ha, well then I agree and disagree with you. Michigan is a great case of where grass roots level pro-hunting media efforts are very critical.

What I was thinking about, specifically, was that I've been engaged with H$U$ at the state policy level (closed room meetings) and in both cases (one involving mute swan policy and one involving a separate species), and in both cases, they used negative (anti HSUS) publicity as "evidence" that the state agency was "biasing the citizens against them" through talking points, etc. Which is absurd, of course. And people actually sat there and listened to that crap!

My experience working with them (their DC office) has been that they are super effective in riding ANY publicity TOWARD a goal of increased legitimacy. Kind of like an environmental Paris Hilton. "I'm on the TV, so I must be talented."

NorCal Cazadora said...

That all may be true. But it isn't reason enough to stop me from calling bullshit on HSUS, because I see those people making headway with lies, and that's unacceptable.

PETA, on the other hand, is just stupid and silly, so I do not bother to dignify their kindergarten antics by mentioning them.