Dove Hunting Guide

Delicious doves

Recipes offer tasty ways to enjoy birds

- By Jean Wilson Yuma Outdoors

Being ready for cooking begins with preparing the bird. Your bird or just the breast (your preference) needs to be properly defeathere­d and cleaned completely. Deboning the breast meat makes some cooking methods easier to work with so it is something to consider while getting preparatio­ns done before getting into recipes.

To get ready using the whole bird, start with removing all innards and feathers. Vinyl gloves help, as does having a bucket of clean water, clean cloths and a trash bag – which is helpful whether it’s the whole bird or just the breast. Cooking the whole bird allows enjoyable eating of legs and wing parts in addition to the breast.

Leaving one digit on the wings, according to Hank Shaw (noted hunter and author), keeps the breast meat more moist. He says, “Clean and dry. Recipes are easy after that.” Hank says, Oil ‘em up, rub with a bit of salt, stuff the little cavities with fresh herbs, grill and then paint the doves with bacon fat and sprinkle with smoky Spanish Paprika and you’re ready for eating.

Tip on defeatheri­ng your bird: Feathers are inclined to fly everywhere and create a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up – keep that trash bag handy. Finish the clean up either by hand with a damp cloth or vacuum to toss.

If your recipe calls for breast meat only, merely hold legs back and out of the way, then pluck just feathers from the breast and push the rest to the side or into trash bag. With fingers up and under the bottom of the breast bone, pull up until the breast separates itself from the rest of the bird, trim and wash to clean breast and it’s ready for cooking. If you find you need to separate the two sides of the breast, separate the meat with fingers or knife for two halves.

Following are a few tried and true dove recipes that melt in your mouth.

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Dove

Mouth watering and terrific eating. Dove breasts – at least a limit is good to begin. Marinate overnight – I cover with Italian dressing after a good rub-down with lemon juice (use marinade you prefer). When ready for cooking, wrap bacon slices around dove meat, (use two sides either separately or together – your choice), 1/2 tsp butter, sprinkling of garlic powder, onion powder & pepper, each side. If salting is chosen, I’ve found Kosher salt is best for cooking or even just marinating. Wrap dove breasts thoroughly with bacon to cover and keep meat together and secure with toothpick (soak toothpick in water prior to using to prevent burning). I cook slowly – medium heat – lay them on my griddle (cast iron is good) over the barbecue fire and grill, turning when needed until bacon is crispy (dove will be ready for eating at that point). Perfect for a meat and potatoes kind of chef!

Jalapeno Poppers

Another recipe using almost the same ingredient­s as the recipe above, with additions, are Jalapeno Poppers. Absolutely mouth watering to say the least if you enjoy a share of heat – a good change of pace. For each dove breast, fresh jalapenos sliced in half lengthwise (for less heat, remove seeds from pepper, rinse, dry) and fill the cavity of the pepper with a good size portion of cream cheese and place on top of 1/2 of a deboned dove breast, wrap securely with strip of bacon or two, (secure with toothpick). Cook on griddle over gas barbecue until bacon is crisp. You can even add a slice of pineapple before wrapping with bacon for added flavor. These doves are not only tasty but have a bit of a zang plus the quieting feature of cream cheese. Can’t hardly beat it for popularity. Sooooo tasty, yum!

Buffalo-style Doves

Here is a recipe for “Buffalo Style Doves” by Jerry L. Neal, senior videograph­er and multi-specialist for Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

Ingredient­s -1. Dove breasts removed from bone, Flour, Salt & Pepper, Paprika, 2 eggs, 5 Cups Buttermilk, 1 bottle Franks Hot sauce (or your favorite), 1 Tbls. butter, 2 Tbls honey. Using sharp knife, remove breast meat from the bone. Directions: Once meat is removed from bones, mix flour and seasoning in bowl – add seasonings to your liking. Whisk eggs, add butter and milk in separate bowl. Dip breast meat into eggs, then coat in flour/ spices. In skillet, combine butter and olive oil on medium heat. Once butter mix is hot, add dove breasts and cook 2-3 minutes per side. Use tongs, and flip meat. Once fully cooked and the dove is a light brown color, remove from the skillet to a plate with paper towels. In small saucepan combine hot sauce, honey and butter. Heat to medium – the honey and butter offset any kick from the hot sauce and may be left out if you prefer spicier sauce. Pour buffalo sauce over dove meat and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Sounds well worth doing. I’ll try it, how about you?

Helen’s Dove and Dumplings Casserole

Ingredient­s are: 8 cups chicken broth, 5 stalks of celery, chopped with leaves, 3 small onions, chopped, 3 Tablespoon­s garlic, minced; 1 cup mushrooms, sliced, salt & pepper to taste, 25 doves, 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/4 cups water.

Directions: Boil celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper in chicken broth. Add the doves and let simmer 20-30 minutes or until tender. Remove doves and let cool. Return broth to boil. Lightly flour work surface of cutting board or any clean surface will do. Mix your flour and water to create a nice ball of dough. Make sure dough is not too sticky. If it is, gradually add a little more flour until it’s the desired texture. Roll dough into a thin rectangle and cut in strips. Pull each strip tip, stretching it to make thinner. Drop those puppies into the boiling broth one at a time and cook for 20 minutes. Shred the dove meat while dumplings are cooking. Once dumplings are finished, add shredded meat to both and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve this in cooler months for a warm dinner.

New Orleans Dove

This creole dish is fit for a king (or queen), and it’s another favorite. This was included in last year’s recipes but well worth repeating.

Ingredient­s -Dutch Oven, 16 dove breasts, 1 1/2 cups bulk spicy Italian sausage, Creole seasoning, 1 cup okra, 4 cups chopped tomatoes, 1 large onion, 2 celery stalks & 1/2 cup green bell Peppers, all chopped & mixed together. Chicken broth, 2 cups raw rice, 2 cups raw shrimp, salt & pepper to taste.

In a heavy skillet, sprinkle sausage

with creole seasoning, and fry until cooked. Remove and drain sausage and place it in the Dutch oven. While in the skillet, sprinkle dove breasts with creole seasoning and place in the Dutch oven, add tomatoes and enough chicken broth to cover everything. Bring to a boil, let simmer for 1 hour or until the dove is cooked through. Season to taste. Add rice and shrimp and simmer until rice is cooked. (I replace okra with corn on the cobs – personal choice). A gumbo lover’s dream!

A few suggestion­s from other hunters ...


Check your dove for spent shot that may remain in the meat – this doesn’t occur all the time but it’s good to be sure

Some cooks lightly sauteed dove breasts in a frying pan with butter, garlic and olive oil, setting it aside to rest before beginning a recipe.

Final suggestion: If you might want to bake your dove breasts, marinating before-hand is a good idea (might try balsamic vinegar and olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper). When ready to bake, wrap breasts in bacon and secure with toothpick or skewers. Bake until bacon is crispy – dove will be tender and juicy.

Reminder: It’s a good idea to keep track of our limits of dove. Daily limit is 15 mourning or white-winged dove of which no more than 10 may be white wing. Possession limit

(after three or more days of hunting) remains at 45 doves of which no more than 30 may be white-winged doves.

I hope both hunting and eating of the dove are enjoyable from start to finish. No matter where you hunt, please “Leave it better than you find it” to help us have a repeat performanc­e on future hunts. Hope you’ll enjoy it all!

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