Eurasian Collared Dove (no bag limit)
Your Asparagus is Safe
Normally, I pass on dove season. It's more shooting than hunting. I was asked by a friend who farms to park myself out by his asparagus fields this year.
He gave two very good reasons for this request, which was backed up by a case of .20 guage shotgun shells.
First, while his fields are clearly marked to be "Written Invitation Only" hunting zones, many out of town hunters take that sign itself as a written invitation. Idiots stomping around asparagus fields can do as much, if not more damage to the crop than the dove. Having somebody out by the field to make sure that only folks with those invitations and good field manners hunt is a good idea.
Second, the dove themselves. Folks who are not around farming really have no idea of the havoc dove can visit upon crops. Right now, along with the asparagus in its vulnerable shoot stage, we have winter tomatoes (if ya'll want salad for Thanksgiving, we need to protect the tomato plants today), and semolina wheat which only has two more weeks until it is harvested and ground down into pasta.
Along with the Mourning and White Wing species of dove, which are native to the area, we have Turtle Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove which have grown in huge numbers over the past few years.
Without the pressure from a well regulated and supervised hunt, not only would the crops be in danger, but the native species would also be in danger of being pushed out by the larger invaders.
The best reason though, is that these suckers are tasty.
Grilled Dove Breast
Several dove breasts, skinned and picked clean of shot
Italian salad dressing (I use the cheapest available, this time it was Wishbone®)
Pickled Jalepeño peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
Marinate the dove breasts in the Italian dressing for at least two hours. Take the half pepper and hold it behind the breast bone. Wrap with bacon, secure with toothpick and grill over charcoal.
I like a nice char crust on the bacon. Figure 10 to 15 for every guest. Each breast is about two bites.
I got my aggregate limit this morning in White Wing and Mourning Dove. There's no limit on the Eurasian Collared Dove, I got 12 of them, I'm the kind of hunter who won't shoot unless I'm absolutely certain of my target. I have yet to shoot a lawyer or a friend. Fish and Game regulations require that a wing be left on breasted dove to determine species.
While I was parked by the field I turned away two SUV loads of strangers. The highlight of the morning was when I made espresso for two Game Wardens who stopped by to see what I was doing parked by the field. I showed them my written invitation from the landowner, showed them my bag. Told them that I had quit hunting for the day because of reaching my limits but was staying out to watch the field. Then I invited them for coffee.
I'll be back out by the field a few hours before sundown. Asparagus is worthy of the effort.