They’re small, gray feathered, and fast! Dipping and dodging as they streak across the September skies of central Alabama. They herald in the first of the fall hunting seasons for our state and are as welcomed as the cooler temps fore-casted next week.
For those of us ”starved” for something to hunt besides a feral pig or a coyote. Dove Season opens Saturday for the “North Zone” of the state which encompasses most of central Alabama and I am getting my “post-labor day” smile going in anticipation of my favorite time of year which is fall, winter and spring!
Anyone who is a regular reader of this site has probably seen my statements before about summer. But, one more time I will just say it is my LEAST favorite season and it gets more that way each year I get a little older! From the heat, to my job stress, from a staggering summer work load, to keeping up a dang concrete “money pit” pool for my granddaughter and her “crew” to the never ending grass cutting, trimming, pruning and all the other yard work chores. Summer is just no fun for me anymore!
But, fall is fun! Hunting season, fall fishing, trail riding my ATV, scouting, anticipating the fall deer hunting season man, fall is fantastic!! Now, more on the fast approaching dove season! In the North Zone the season is split with the first section open from September the 8th and closing on October the 7th. The second season for the North Zone opens on October 20th and runs through November 3rd. The final season opens again on December 9th and runs until January 1st.
The daily bag limit for Mourning doves, White-Winged dove or a combination of the two species is 15. The other dove that we are seeing more of in our area, the Eurasian Collared Dove, has no bag limit or season. These bigger doves are often twice the size of some small mourning doves and they are definitely big, meaty, and the best part is they seem to fly a bit slower! At least to me anyway! Last year during several shoots I took more of the collared birds than mourning doves as they came in over the bush hogged Milo patch we hunted.
At many dove hunts I have had the pleasure of attending on a warm, breezy fall afternoon, a large number of the participants would offer me their doves and I rarely turn any “freebies” away. I have found that many of those folks just did not know what they were missing! My all time favorite dove recipe is grilled dove breast. The cleaning is easy if you just take your thumb and pull the breast out of the bird from the mid-section upward toward the neck. After a few trys, it will probably take a you only a minute or less, to literally ”pop” the breast out, remove the skin and few left over feathers and get them in a pan of cold water to soak for a few minutes. Once I complete cleaning the all the doves, I wash them thoroughly, pat them dry with some paper towels and then start my prep for the grill. I like to wrap them in a strip of bacon (everything is better with bacon) and marinate them in one of my favorite marinades, such as “Dales”. But Worcestershire, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or Italian dressing are all good choices to achieve a flavorful result on a hot charcoal grill. If I decide to get real fancy, I have stuffed them with a small piece of link sausage, or jalapeno peppers and cream cheese. However, just wrapped and marinaded is my choice. Sometimes BBQ sauce added just before taking up is a good change of taste.
Grilled dove breast make great appetizers that are superb after a day of fun in the dove field and are very good! I have had many people who were squeamish at first when offered this tasty appetizer from the grill, only to return for two or three more after they realized they “had it all wrong” in their perception of the taste. But, you have to be careful! If you help too many of your hunting buddies find out how easy doves are to clean and how great they taste off the grill, they may not give you those “free-birds” anymore!
Dove season is a great time to get youngsters in the field if they have been properly trained in gun safety. Even those too young to handle a shotgun will enjoy the activities as a spectator and gain an appreciation for the outdoors when they are able to see the fast shooting action of a good dove shoot when the birds are flying in like gray rockets and the shotguns are popping all over the field! Missed shots bring laughs and commentary, The sounds of an Alabama or Auburn football game playing on truck radios, The beverage breaks, peanuts cracked out of the shell sitting on a tailgate waiting for the doves to come, a beautiful Labrador retrieving downed doves for his proud master. Visits with friends on breaks in the action and the spectacular sunsets after the less enthusiastic crowd has gone home and left me and a few other “die-hards” to enjoy the quiet of an Alabama dove field at dusk! I remember many great afternoons afield and hope to remember many more!
Go shoot some doves this weekend or next! And be sure to take a kid along to experience the magic only found in the great outdoors of Central Alabama!
Hope you come back here next week for more hunting and outdoor news!