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I’m sitting here staring at my laptop screen trying to think of a killer opening to this piece but my mind is racing and I can’t focus. 

I can’t focus because dove season is near…September 1st only days away!  Finally!  After the months of heat…well the heat is still here but its a different kind of heat.  It’s here…Opening Day of Texas Dove Season is days away and all I can say is THANK GOD!

What is it about shooing the international symbol of peace that just fires me up to no end?!  Truthfully, its not so much the harvesting of the bird that keeps me awake at night all spring and summer it’s more so the feeling we get this time year.

It’s Texas high school football and Friday night lights. It’s college football, tailgates and rivalry weekends (Wreck ‘Em Texas Tech!) It’s the bird dogs and early season teal. It’s a new deer season just over the horizon. It’s the fire pits, the change in the sunsets and the “coolness” of the morning sunrise.

It’s THAT time of year and I am simply overrun with the memories of yesteryear and the desire to make more in the field with friends and family.  It just gets me emotional, what can I say? Hell, I even wrote a poem about this special time of year!

Fishes are my wishes

but only in the summer you see

It’s the birds of grey that rule my day

as I sit below my tree   

I’ll spend the remainder of this piece talking cooking dove and a few other dove hunting tips.

Yeah Buddy! Them Some Good Eating! How to prepare dove…Texas Style!

Texas Style Dove Ingredients List:

  • Dove – the more the better!
  • Texas 1015 sweet yellow onion
  • Jar or canned jalapenos
  • Bacon

Texas Style Dove Tools List:

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Spoon
  • Paper towels
  • Bowl
  • Cold beer
  • Toothpicks

Alright…Let’s Dance!

Gather your supplies.  Cut the onion into thin strips and use the spoon to fish out some jalapenos.
Go through your birds and make sure to trim off any feathers or skin left on.  Also, make sure to remove any freezer burned pieces.
The picture above is a good example of a freezer burned dove.  I will post another blog later on that show pictures of how to properly package dove for long term storage.  Most freezer burn can be trimmed away.
Pull a dove breast from your pile and gently slice down the sides of the breast bone exposing a valley between the meat and the bone.
Insert Texas 1015 goodness and pepper.  Some folks put cheese in them as well.
Feed Bandit Fun Fact of the Day:  Did you know that a naked dove breasts get cold?  Yeah, its true.  To help them get through the cold before they hit the grill give them a bacon jacket!
Ahhhh!  See!?  It’s not cold anymore!  Toothpick your bird and move onto the next one!

Now the best way to cook these fellas is over a mesquite fired grill.  Hands down.  There’s just something about cooking over burning logs outside on a grill.

But don’t fret, a gas grill work well too.  Just remember that bacon will drip and will flame up.  To prevent the flame up, close your grill tongs and keep rolling the birds on the grill.  Flipping them one at a time is a big ordeal but worth it.

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Dove Hunting Gear

Now that you know how to cook dove we need to actually get some out in the field! Below is a quick summary of how to do that and what to use but don’t forget to check out our other articles Dove Hunting Tips for the Beginner as well as our recommended dove hunting gear page to see what we use out in the field.

Guns, Shells and Chokes

Doves are not big birds so a 20 gauge will do the trick.  A 12 gauge is fine too of course but is not necessary if you don’t want to hold that size of a gun.

Dove fly fast and are very acrobatic in flight so the broader your shot pattern the better.  We use improved chokes in our guns to give us the widest pattern.

As far as shells go, we use 2 3/4 either 8 or 7 1/2 shot.  Anything larger is a bit much if you really connect with one.

Cloths and Boots

Doves, much like ducks and turkey, see real well and in color.  Do you need to be camo from head to toe? No, but keep the hot pink at home!

Drab is the name of the game.  Also, its normally hot so dress for the weather.  In Texas, snakes boots are a must.  We basically wear them year round.

Here is a picture of our my boots pre-cleaning!  I put a nice coat of Bick 4 Leather Conditioner (click to view on Amazon) on a rag and go to town a few times a year.

I also put bees wax on my stitching and rub it in with a toothbrush to help keep the water out.  Take care of your boots and they’ll take care of you.

Chairs, Decoys and Other Gear

There are a myriad of different buckets, stools and chairs on the market today.  The bottom line is this, unless your ass has no feeling already or is so padded you can’t feel anything when you sit, the buckets, stools and chairs will make your border line miserable.

This year I treated my rump and upgraded to The Mac Daddy Caddy by Hunters Edge!  Check back for our product review after opening weekend.

It just so happens we had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Hunters Edge at the Texas Trophy Hunters show in Forth Worth this year and if there is a nicer fella making hunting gear out there I have yet to meet him!

Decoys are great and will help bring birds to you.  We like the Mojo decoys as they really attract the birds from a long distance.  Make sure you put the butt of the decoy to the area where you anticipate the birds to come from so they can really see the wings.  The plastic clip on decoy work as well.

Bird bags are a must.  I prefer a bird belt which consists of two side pockets (one for empty shells and another for un-fired shells).  The belt also has a back large pocket for your birds!

They also make bird vests which are popular for upland game bird hunting.  They are a bit warm to me in the Texas heat, so I stick to the belt.

Where, When, How

Doves need 4 basic items to live.  Food, water, grit/small gravel and shelter.

Natural sunflowers are by far the birds most favorite food.  Sunflowers are a weed, so look for overgrazed pastures in early spring for early growth.

By mid August you should see the flowers and hopefully they will die and be nice and withered come the openings.  If so, you’ll have dove!

In Texas water is king!  Dove have to have it and they typically go to water in the evening.  Before choosing to hunt a tank (Texan for pond) make sure tank you are going to hunt is not too sloped.

They really like flat tanks like the one in the picture above.  Also, remember, dove will get the water they need out of a rain puddle just as easy as a tank.  If you have standing water, I’d hunt elsewhere as there will be a lot of water competition for your dove.

One of the best hunts I EVER had was over a rock quarry.  You might notice all the doves landing on the roads in the city and the country.  They are eating little pieces of grit and gravel.

Dove don’t have a digestive system like we do so they have to eat gravel to help crush up the seeds in their craw.  Don’t ever overlook a good gravel pit!

Depending on your state game laws you may be able to hunt only at morning or afternoon.  In Texas, we can basically hunt all day.  At first light the birds will leave the roost and head to eat.  If you have a good field you might do well.

I typically do not hunt over water in the morning.  Tank hunting in the evening seems to be much better.  The birds typically head to the roost in the mid morning and loaf until 4PM or so when they make their way back to the fields and then to water.

Dove hunting is not rocket surgery but it does take some thought to “keep the birds flying” and stay safe so you don’t blast your buddy.

First, make sure everyone knows their shooting lanes.  Second, try to “safely surround” a tank or field.  This will help give your buddies a chance at a lucky bird you missed!

Good Luck and Thank God Dove Season is Here!

Be sure to check out our Recommended Dove Hunting Gear to see what we like to use out in the field.

Do you prepare your dove differently? Send us your recipe and we’ll post it on our recipe page!

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