As summer has finally transitioned into fall, dove season is officially underway in Colorado.
The annual Sept. 1 dove-opener is a treasured rite of passage for hunters that brings with it the excitement and anticipation of the fall hunting seasons. For many, dove season is also a long-standing social tradition that reunites family and friends, often who have not seen each other since last hunting season.
To keep the family tradition alive again this year, my stepbrother and I hunted opening day in northeastern Colorado. At sunrise, doves began to dart and dive from what seemed like every direction, and we both had an exceptional morning of shooting. In fact, I bagged my 15-bird limit of mourning doves before noon, something I’ve not done in several years.
For good measure, we also harvested a couple of Eurasian collared-doves — a nonnative and invasive species that yields a bit more meat. Even better, Eurasian collared-doves birds do not count toward your daily bag-limit as long as you keep them fully feathered until you get home. If you’re unfamiliar with Eurasian doves or Colorado’s small-game regulations, be sure to check out this post on Colorado Outdoors Online before you head into the field.
Unlike some years when late-summer cold fronts can send doves packing before opening day, hot and dry weather throughout August has kept nearly all of the migratory birds here in Colorado this season. Thanks to Mother Nature, the stage is set for what could be the best dove season we’ve had in years.
If you’ve had the opportunity like me to hunt the 2020 dove season, chances are you put a few birds in your game-bag too. If you’re a new hunter, you may be wondering just how you’re going to get those doves from the field to your table.
For cooking my birds this year, I selected these three dove recipes. All of them are easy to prepare and are sure to please your friends and family.
Buffalo Style Doves
Nearly everyone enjoys Buffalo chicken wings. Like chicken, the combination of tangy and sweet is a great way to prepare doves. This dove recipe also gives a new meaning to the term “wingshoot.”
- Dove breasts (meat removed from bone)
- 2 eggs
- .5 c buttermilk
- 1 bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp honey
- Remove the breast meat from the bone using a sharp knife.
- Mix the flour and seasoning in a bowl (add seasoning to your liking).
- Whisk eggs and add buttermilk in a separate bowl.
- Dip the breast meat into the eggs and then coat in flour/spices.
- In a skillet, combine the butter and olive oil on medium heat.
- Once butter and oil are hot, add dove breasts and cook approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Use tongs to flip meat. Once fully cooked and batter is a light brown color, remove the breasts and drain on a plate with paper towels.
- In a small saucepan, combine the hot sauce, honey and butter. Heat on medium.
Note: The honey and butter offset the kick of the hot sauce and may be left out completely if you prefer a spicier sauce.
- Pour the Buffalo sauce over the dove breasts and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Dove Jalapeno Poppers
- Dove breasts (meat removed from bone)
- 1 cube of cream cheese
- Fresh or canned jalapeno peppers (sliced)
- 1 package of bacon (thin cut)
- Olive oil
- Lightly saute the dove breasts in a pan with butter, garlic and olive oil. Cook just slightly until the breast meat begins to change color.
- Combine the dove breasts with a small slice of cream cheese and jalapeno.
- Roll dove meat, cheese and peppers with ½ slice of thin-cut bacon. If grilling, use a skewer. If cooking in a skillet, use a toothpick to hold the popper together.
- Grill or fry on medium heat, turning occasionally until bacon is cooked on all sides.
- Serve and enjoy with rice and your favorite veggies.
Fried Dove Breasts
Sometimes simple is best. This quick and easy pan-fried recipe is the way my stepdad prepared doves each year.
- Whole Dove Breasts
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Flour (if crispy coating is desired)
- Lightly cover the whole dove breasts in garlic, salt & pepper.
- Combine butter and olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat.
- Once butter and oil are hot, cook breasts for about 3-4 minutes, turning once during frying.
- Note: egg batter and a light dusting of flour and spices may be added to the breasts prior to frying if a crispy outer coating is desired.
Do you have a favorite dove recipe? If so, please share it in the comments section below.
Written by Jerry Neal. Jerry is the senior videographer and a media specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.