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Doves – How I Miss Thee

Each year on September 1, around sunrise, it happens.  My ego as a hunter and wing-shooter is assaulted by a gray-streak that was a mourning dove.

Mourning dove. A mourning dove perches on a fence post near Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area, Dawes County. Haag, Apr. 26, 2014. Copyright NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Mourning dove. A mourning dove perches on a fence post near Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area, Dawes County. Haag, Apr. 26, 2014. Copyright NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Generally, I stand in open-jaw, amazement with three empty shotgun hulls laying around me as the winged-speedster is off to another location. But every once in a awhile something truly magical happens as I reload and the dove – for reasons still unknown to science –  circles back around, just a little closer, and allows me to miss a few more times.

I’m not the only one missing doves.  The national average is about 6 misses for every mourning dove harvested.  Without a tailwind these birds can reach speeds of 45 mph.  But its the mid-air acrobatics that really humbles the hunter.

In 2015, there were an estimated 13,038 dove hunters in Nebraska that harvested approximately 301,233 doves.  If each hunter averaged a paltry 3 to 4 shells per dove taken that still translates into over a million shots fired….roughly 81 shots per hunter.

IMG_0531(Side-note: the Wildlife Restoration Act means each shell from a $7/box figures out to be $0.03 back for wildlife conservation…that’s more than $30,000 just from the shells fired in 2015. )

There is only one reason hunters would subject themselves to that much embarrassment…the grilled dove popper.  Its my opinion that the grill was invented for the dove.  When you added a slice of jalapeño, a dab of cream cheese and perhaps a small slice of bacon it only made it more perfect.

popperSo here’s to the men and women willing to sacrifice their ego for a chance to utilize the BBQ for its intended purpose (and just happen to be supporting conservation, too).  Happy September!…

If you are looking for place a to miss some doves, check out the 2016 Dove Hunting Fact Sheet.

hershy

About Aaron Hershberger

Aaron "hershy" Hershberger is an Outdoor Education Specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He loves being outdoors. When not outdoors he is day-dreaming about being outdoors and/or whining that he is not outdoors. Hershy has been a Hunter Education Instructor, in two states, for nearly three decades & a Bowhunter Education Instructor for over 20 years.

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