Cumberland Times-News

Outdoors

September 7, 2013

Dove dreams

I have always greatly enjoyed hunting mourning doves, ever since I first tried it in Utah in the late 1960s.

The hunt is a lot of fun and the dove breasts are fine cuisine, though quite a number of them are needed if many people are expected at the dinner table.

As a poor college student at Utah State University who had lost his pump shotgun in a mid-winter boating mishap, I had only a single-shot 20 gauge to use.

I got a few doves that way, but my best maneuver (ethics alert, ethics alert) was crawling through the sage brush until I lined up perfectly with three doves on a wire fence so that I could take all with one shot.

A number of years later I bought a Weatherby Patrician pump and hunted with my buddy (the late) Roger McKeel in the hills near Wenatchee, Wash.

I would hit a dove and miss three. All the while, Roger, using his .410 shotgun, calmly picked single birds and plinked them to the ground. He went 12 for 12.

“That’s all I ever use for doves,” McKeel told me when I asked why he was shooting such a lightweight shotgun.

A few years ago, hunting with Gary Strawn along the South Branch of the Potomac River near River Road, I shot a banded dove. That bird had been captured and banded just two weeks earlier and only a few miles upstream at the South Branch Wildlife Management Area. Locals call it McNeil.

I have had some productive dove hunts on that public land, a scenic location with mountains in the background and juniper studded hills nearby.

In the early 1990s, Sept. 1 always meant a trip with Bob Phillips, Gary Carpenter and (the late) Doug Buckalew to Washington County where we had some barrel melting dove shoots that were followed up with dinner at Park-N-Dine in Hancock.

Once I shot a fast-moving dove that was taking advantage of a tailwind and the bird landed in the back of my pickup truck with a “thonk.”

Another time a group of doves was flying directly toward me. I shot one and swung on another, but my second trigger pull was disrupted when the first bird, quite dead, thumped me on the left shoulder.

A number of years ago, I was killing enough doves to supply appetizers for an annual hunting camp.

The half-breasts were marinated for a day in apricot jam, whiskey and olive oil, with the jam being the main ingredient and the hooch the least.

Each marinated appetizer was wrapped in a half-strip of bacon and cooked slowly over low coals. Many is the nonhunter who ate these and then vowed to take up dove hunting.

My best dove year yielded 61 birds, though 100 would have been put in the freezer by a better shooter.

But I agree with the philosophy that he who shoots the most is the winner.

There was a time that one of my hunting spots was always best at 2:33 p.m. and again at 5:14 p.m.

That’s when the coal trains rumbled through and jumped all the birds off the electric lines.

The mourning dove is a widespread, simple, beautiful bird with irridescent feathers. I think of a dove as an airborne Slinky, an amoeba in flight that can morph, dodge, twist and roll just as I am about to pull the trigger.

There is no doubt that deer and spring gobbler seasons are the lead acts on the hunting stage nowadays.

Mourning doves, though, are a great warm-up band with sounds and sights that only they can provide.

Have a great hunting season, and a safe one.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

1
Text Only
Outdoors
  • No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe

    Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
    I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
    A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer  everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and  parasites a place to live.

    April 19, 2014

  • Blue catfish Bad catfish should be eaten

    ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has  launched  a  statewide  campaign  to  educate  citizens  about invasive blue and flathead catfish -  their negative impact on native fish species and what anglers can
    do to help.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nice first one Nice first one

    Brett Ishler, 16, Frostburg, bagged his first gobbler during the junior spring turkey hunt. The bird had a 9-inch beard and was taken near Westernport. Ishler was accompanied on the hunt by Rodney Lipscomb.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Archery open house planned May 4

    CUMBERLAND — The Cumberland Bowhunters Club will host an archery open house at its Valley Road facility on May 4 beginning at 1 p.m.

    April 19, 2014

  • Turkey hunting class scheduled

    TYRONE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Game Com- mission will offer a Successful Turkey Hunting course at the Tyrone Sportsmen Association on April 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    April 19, 2014

  • Commission meeting set

    ROANOKE, W.Va. — The next quarterly meeting of the West Virginia Natural Resources Commission will be May 4 at 1 p.m. at Stonewall Resort State Park in Roanoke. The public is invited to make com- ments. Items on the agenda include:
        •    Summary of the 2014 Sectional Meetings – Sportsmen  and  Landowners  Questionnaire.
        •    Approve 2014 - 2015 Big Game Hunting Regula- tions.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. cautions about eating certain fish

    CHARLESTON,  W.Va.  (AP)  — West Virginia has updated its advisories for eating fish caught in lakes and rivers.

    April 19, 2014

  • U.S. Army Corps campgrounds open

    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to open campgrounds at five West Virginia lakes.

    April 19, 2014

  • Fishing rodeo slated

    ROCKY GAP — A children’s fishing rodeo will take place at the Rocky Gap State Park Nature Center on May 4 from 9 a.m. to noon.
    Register at canderson@dnr. state.md.us or call 301-722-1480.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crossbow use begins for New York deer hunters

    ALBANY,  N.Y.  (AP)  —  The  new state  budget includes  an  agreement  that  will  give  crossbow hunters their own season in New York.
    Language within the budget will allow  crossbow use for all small game, including turkeys, and any big game season in which firearms are allowed.

    April 19, 2014