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 Bacon Wrapped Dove Morsels
   Dan Martinez

September 2020

Ooo-Rah! Hunters across the state look forward to September 1st as the official start to the fall hunting season. Heading out for doves on the opener is one of my favorite traditions, whether or not I can share the experience with friends and family.

I did end up signing up again for one of the Small Game Challenges, this time for the Desert Small Game Challenge. That consists of getting five of seven of the three dove species, the three quail species, plus cottontail. I’m well on my way already, having taken Mourning Dove and White-Winged Dove since the season opener.

When friends introduced me to dove hunting many years ago, I asked, “Well, how do you cook them?”. I was told to wrap them in bacon and stuff them into the oven. That’s all the instruction I was given.

So I had to figure out the details on my own. Over the years I have developed what has worked the best for me, and now I’d like to share those details with you guys.

In the field, I start by breasting the birds out. That means saving only the breast with one wing attached. You must leave one fully feathered wing while transporting until you get home – legal requirement.

At home, at a cutting board inside my kitchen sink, I next cut off that wing, and run each breast under a slow stream of water. I pull off any remaining skin, and rinse off any leftover feathers.

Next I fillet the breast meat off from the breast bone. I slice down right next to the center rib of the breast bone, then gently push the meat off the breast plate using the side of the blade. I like to use a full size folding hunter such as a Buck 110 or Old Timer 6OT Golden Bear for this task.

Dove breast fillets from 7 birds

At this time, you can rinse off any blood clots in the meat, open up any pellet wounds to pull out any feathers that may have been drawn into the meat, and make sure that there are no pellets still embedded in the meat, all under the slow stream of water. Fillet both sides of the breast, and you end up with two breast fillets per bird. I place each fillet on a double layer of paper towel as each bird is processed to soak up the water.

Ok, now it is time to break out the bacon. Start by cutting the bacon in half. Each dove fillet takes one half the length of a standard piece of bacon.

Prepare a cookie sheet by wrapping it in aluminum foil. Grab a box of toothpicks. Then simply place a dove fillet on a piece of bacon and roll it up. Secure each roll with a toothpick pierced all the way through. As each dove morsel is created, place it on the cookie sheet.

This year, instead of baking them in the oven, I decided to use my pellet grill. It’s basically just an outdoor oven, capable of regulating to a specific set temperature. It may even impart a little bit of wood smoke flavor to the dove morsels. By cooking them in the pellet grill, I avoid heating up, and stinking up the house. It’s not that they are particularly smelly, but the bacon aroma will definitely waft throughout the house when you cook them indoors.

I preheated the pellet grill to 325°. When up to temperature, I popped the cookie sheet into the grill.

Going in Coming out

After 10 minutes, I check them to see how they are doing. If they came straight out of the refrigerator before going into the grill, you might want to give them an extra five minutes. The bottom of the bacon in contact with the cookie sheet should start looking slightly bacon crispy.

If so, then take your tongs and flip each one of them over. Now give them another 10 to maybe 15 minutes, depending on the degree of crispy that suits your preference.

My preference is bacon that is very slightly crispy, but mostly soft enough to still cut with a knife. The dove morsels are a family favorite with my sons, and even Jodi tolerates them, though she is not necessarily a big fan of wild meats.

This dove season has been good to me so far. We’ve been enjoying lots of dove morsels since the season started.

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