|(From left) Rolley Len Kirk, Hadley Fields and Cason Kirk have fun running around and helping retrieve the birds during one of the dove shoots.|
When I asked Cason what his favorite thing about dove hunting was, he said, "Shooting." However, in all the photos I saw, I didn’t see him even holding a gun although I am sure he did at some point. In most of the pictures it looks like he is having a lot of fun running around with the other children instead of shooting.
When Jason takes Rolley Len and Cason to a dove field, it is a lot like camping out or tailgating. Multiple families show up with children of all ages and levels of hunting experience. If you put a bunch of active and imaginative children together in an open field, they will have a blast. They can stir up birds, practice their shooting, retrieve the birds or make up games to play. It can be good exercise and entertainment and result in some healthy competition.
According to Rolley Len, the kids’ games got pretty competitive on their last shoot. She said they were told that whoever had 15 birds by the end of the day would get a big prize. The bag limit is actually 15 per day, and Jason said he has never been able to shoot that many in our area in one day. Although the contest was tough, the offer of a prize for 15 birds motivated several boys and girls into action. There was a lot of swiping each other’s birds in an attempt to win. Rolley Len said that her favorite part of the dove shoot was all the creeping and sneaking around, and snatching of birds.
Dove hunting is one of the best hunts for young children because they don’t have to control their noise level or sit still for a long period of time. Even though there was a consistent ruckus going on around the field, there were still many teachable moments. The kids learned more about dove hunting from the grownups. They practiced their aim taking shots with their Red Rider BB guns. They also learned how to spot a fallen bird and handle a dead bird. Cason said he had not learned how to clean them yet, but it won’t be long though before they are cleaning and cooking the birds they shoot themselves.
Since dove shoots last for hours and are inherently social, everyone brings plenty of food like barbecue, baked beans and grilled hot dogs to keep parents and children full through the day. If you already have birds from an earlier shoot, these recipes would be a great addition to your next outdoor meal.
Dove breasts are small, so make sure you have enough for you and your guests. Depending on whether you are making an appetizer or an entrée, a serving is between three and eight breasts. The dove poppers can be cooked on the grill and the fried dove breasts can either be cooked on site or cooked at home and reheated over the fire.
For dove seasons by zone and bag limits, visit www.outdooralabama.com/season-and-bag-limits.
Deboned dove breasts
1 jar whole jalapenos
1 (8-ounce) container cream cheese
Bacon, cut in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse and dry dove breasts. Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Stuff cream cheese into the open cavity of each jalapeno. Place a dove breast on top and wrap in half a piece of bacon securing with a toothpick. Repeat with all breasts. Grill breasts over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until bacon is crisp, turning once. Salt and pepper to taste.
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 dove breasts, deboned, rinsed and patted dry
Oil, for frying
Hot sauce, optional
Pour buttermilk into a shallow bowl. In another shallow dish, combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge dove breasts in buttermilk and then in flour mixture until just coated.
Pour about ¼-inch cooking oil into the bottom of a deep skillet (cast iron if you have it) and bring to 350°. Fry dove breasts in batches for about 2 minutes, turning once during frying. Remove dove to a platter lined with paper towels to drain. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce such as ranch, ketchup or pepper jelly.
Note: This recipe reminds me of fried chicken livers.
1 cup flour, sifted
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Oil, for cooking
3 dove breasts, deboned and cut into ¼-inch pieces
Mix flour, Panko, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Beat egg in a separate bowl. Heat a deep skillet (cast iron if you have it) to medium high temperature. Add oil to cover the bottom of skillet.
Add dove breasts to beaten egg and then toss in flour. Place dove breasts in oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. About 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve with ranch, ketchup or other favorite dipping sauce.
Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.