By Luke Clayton, Outdoors Editor
With the beginning of dove season, many of us are making plans for the opener of the first of the fall hunting seasons. In Texas and much of the country, the opening day cook out with family and friends is as much as part of the overall hunting experience as shooting doves. I’ve hunted large ranches with scores of other hunters and enjoyed huge BBQ feasts, usually at the noon meal. I’ve also opened the season hunting with myself of a family member or two. Regardless, it seems a shame to open the season without a celebratory meal.
Now, as all the veteran camp cooks out there know all too well, outdoor cooking requires a bit of planning! When the moon and planets are properly aligned and the bird’s flight pattern intersects your position on the edge of a dove patch, it’s possible to down a limit of birds on the morning hunt and prepare them for the noon or evening meal. But from past experiences, it’s best to have the makings of the meal tucked away in the ice cooler and ready to cook when the hunt is over.
When I assume culinary duties on a dove hunt, as I often do, I have a main course planned and often cook a few fresh dove breasts to snack on before the meal. Cooking in the field can be challenging and much thought needs to be given to insure all the ingredients and utensils are on hand. There’s two ways to meet the challenge, depending upon the time you have to spend cooking. If you plan to hunt much of the day, better slow smoke a wild hog ham or have several freezer bags full of BBQ in the cooler, which can be heated up quickly. A few years ago when hunting near Dublin, I actually brought along my Smokin’ Tex electric smoker, loaded it with hams and loins from a small wild hog and let it slow smoke all night. But, this turned out to be not so good an idea. After hunting a couple hours the next morning, everyone came back to camp and smelled the slow smoked pork. When I made the mistake of opening my smoker to give them a peek at the tender meat, they talked me into boning the meat in a big aluminum pan. In no time, they were making BBQ sandwiches. In a matter of minutes, our noon meal was gone! We wound up eating a late lunch at Dairy Queen!