This Thursday, Sept. 1, those of us who love to “wingshoot” will have the opportunity to warm the barrel up on our favorite shotgun when the 2016 Indiana Mourning Dove season opens. Mourning doves are without question one of the sportiest targets there is and an incredible number of shotgun shells are dispensed by hunters annually while hunting these sleek little buzz bombs. It’s about as much fun as hunting and shooting can get — shorts, t-shirt and guns.
Adding even more appeal to the pursuit of North America’s most plentiful gamebird is the fact that doves also rate very high in the table-fare category. In fact, I don’t think anything tastes as good as lightly-seasoned dove breast wrapped in bacon and then grilled on medium-high heat. The flesh should end up medium rare, the bacon just starting to brown.
My mouth is watering as I type this. After spending the better part of a day in the hot sun hunting doves there really is nothing better than a plate of perfectly grilled dove breasts and an icy-cold beverage to wash them down.
It isn’t just dove-season that opens on Thursday, Sora Rails and Common Snipe seasons open as well. Laugh all you want but I happen to really enjoy hunting both of the species. Yes, I’m one of the few people that can claim to have shot snipe and rail when I’m taking the mandatory H.I.P. survey for my hunting privileges.
Snipe have the potential to be a more difficult target than doves. As far as rails go, these little marsh birds remind me an awful lot of low-flushing quail.
A couple of years ago I hunted rails relentlessly just to prove I could do it at first, but I quickly realized how much doggone fun it was. Daily bag limits are liberal and I bagged nearly 50 of them over the course of a couple weeks. Incidentally I mix all three aforementioned species together during grilling sessions and while I wouldn’t put snipe and rails in the same category as doves, they are pretty tasty. For more information on these seasons including regulations and license requirements go to: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3571.htm.
This coming Saturday, Sept. 3, marks the beginning of the long annual odyssey of the waterfowl hunter when early-goose and teal seasons open. Both of these opportunities are hit or miss depending on the year. While you can hunt geese over water, ideally they are hunted in fields so they have a solid, safe roost to hold them in the area. Some years we have plenty of wheat and corn stubble by the opener but it doesn’t appear that this will be the case this season.
Teal will be migrating through regardless and I’m certain there are a few around already. I prefer to hunt teal towards middle part of the month when larger numbers of migrant birds are traveling through. Last season we missed the “big push” by a couple days as right after the season closed thousands upon thousands of teal congregated on area marshes.
Some people don’t like to eat early-season geese, but they are great for marinating and grilling shish kebab style. Again, don’t overcook them and slide the meat, onion, peppers etcetera off on a bed of rice and squirt a little Sriracha sauce on top and enjoy. I also like to use goose breasts to make jerky or have them processed into hunter sticks. Get in touch with Sims Meat Processing at (219) 393-1000, or Elkins Quality Taxidermy & Deer Processing at (574) 654-8845 for your game processing needs. They have other options for wild game as well.
Both Blue-winged and Green-winged teal are also fantastic table fare. These small ducks rate right up there with doves when it comes the best of the best. It’s commonplace for waterfowl hunters to say teal are their favorite duck to eat, myself included, not to mention they are a blast to hunt.
You can also mix them right in with the other critters on the grill but one of my favorite ways to eat teal is to fillet the breasts off after plucking them and season both sides, then sear them in hot peanut oil. It only takes a few minutes and when both sides of the breasts start too brown and the skin is crisping up slice them and serve with dipping sauce. Anything works but a sweet, Asian based sauce is my favorite. Caution: be careful because you can start a nasty fight once the kids catch on to the organic goodness you are serving them.
For additional information on Indiana waterfowl hunting seasons including state and federal regulations, daily bag limits and license requirements, go to: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3569.htm.
• From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., CST, on Sunday, Sept. 11, the annual Fun Shoot at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area will take place. All youth 17 and under are invited, no experience necessary. Educational and instructional activities may include archery, clay pigeon shooting, target shooting with .22’s and BB guns.
I’ve attended and volunteered for several of these events and they are an awesome opportunity to spend some time with the kids and expose them to the great American outdoor sporting heritage. A shout out to the Galena River Chapter NWTF, IDNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, LaPorte Chapter Pheasants Forever, Deep River Bowman and many more for their hard work and effort on this. For more information or to make a reservation, call (219) 393-3612.