How Dove Season Reminds Us Who We Are

There's a feeling of fall in the air this week that's too subtle for society at large to notice, but not for us. Sure, our neighbors may note that it dipped into the low 50's during recent evenings, or that the days are shortening. But I wonder if anyone but a hunter can sense the very smell of fall riding the air. It's been on the wind for several days now, calling to us, assuring us its glorious return will soon dawn.

And while last year a never-ending heat wave wreaked havoc on us, the cooler weather appears to be arriving just in time for fall's unofficial kick-off: The opening day of dove season, held September 1 in most states.

To some, dove season is just a warm-up to "real" seasons, an opportunity to get reacquainted with shotguns, friends and out-of-shape retrievers. For others, including the author, it's a unique and wonderful hunting opportunity all its own. Dove hunting may be a laid back affair, and often a highly social one, but this does not mean it is without challenges—both in understanding and finding doves, and in actually shooting one of the speedy little suckers. Indeed, beloved author Nash Buckingham, considered one of the best wingshots of his day, wrote that there's no bird more difficult to shoot than a dove. No doubt the swift, erratic flight of the slender birds provides much of their mystique, and it's rare that I shoot one without experiencing a sense of surprise at my success.

However, when it comes to connecting with a dove, I'll take being lucky over missing. Not only for obvious reasons, but because of the rewards doves provide on the table. If they weighed a pound or two, they'd probably be everybody's favorite wild game dish; but just as well, I'm happy to enjoy them mere ounces at a time. I've tried many a dove dish, but my favorite is still the old fashioned bacon-wrapped dove. Yes, I know wrapping a slice of meat in bacon and throwing it on the grill is cheating, as you can make most anything taste good in this manner. But if the decadent flavor of bacon-wrapped dove is cheating, then I don't want to play by the rules.

There's something special that transpires when we eat the first doves of the year, too: We feel like ourselves again. We have scouted, hunted and, after a long, tedious summer, we have once again tasted wild game. My friends, the greatest time of year is nearly upon us. Happy dove season. Have a bountiful fall.

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1 Response to How Dove Season Reminds Us Who We Are

rono wrote:
September 07, 2012

AMEN ! I have the same feelings.