Mesquite-Smoked Dove

Step up your bacon-wrapped dove game this season with this richly marinated meal.

Preparation time: 12 hours. Cook time: 10-20 minutes.


1 c. salt
1 gallon water

¼ c. sherry
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ medium onion, sliced

10 dove breasts
10 thin, fatty bacon slices
Cracked black pepper
Mesquite wood chips

Make the brine by mixing the salt and water in a container that will fit in your refrigerator. Soak dove breasts in brine overnight.

Mix together all marinade ingredients. Remove dove breasts from brine and pat dry. Add dove breasts to the marinade and chill for at least 2 hours.

Remove breasts from marinade and pat dry. Wrap breasts in bacon slices, sprinkle with cracked black pepper, and cover. Chill until you are ready to grill.

Add mesquite wood chips to your grill’s smoker box and warm up grill. Add dove breasts to an area with indirect heat, removing when bacon is crispy.

This tastes great with wild rice; you can even smoke that, too, for added flavor!


wild game doves

Dove Hunting Safety Tips

1. SAFETY - Be aware of your safe zone-of-fire! Traveling outside of your safe zone-of-fire is dangerous. The last thing you want to do is pepper your fellow hunters with lead!

2. SUCCESS - Match the choke to your conditions. Most modern shotguns have screw chokes that allow you to change them on the fly. If you are aware of your hunting area and can predict the rough range of the doves’ flight path, use a choke that sets you up for success. Many hunters make the mistake of using a choke that is too tight. Doves are extremely difficult to hit, so using the right choke can increase your odds. Instead of a full choke, opt first for a modified or improved cylinder. The choke controls how much shot will hit in a certain area at different ranges.

    • Improved cylinder: Range of up to about 30 yards
    • Modified: Range of up to about 35 yards
    • Full: Range of up to 40 yards

One last thing: Don’t throw any Hail Marys. Being a responsible hunter means knowing when to let a dove go. Any dove outside of your effective range will be very difficult to hit. You don’t want to end up wounding the dove and sending it across a property line to expire. Take good shots!

3. FUN - Take a buddy! Dove hunting is the perfect way to introduce a new hunter to the sport. The weather is typically nice, game is plentiful (hopefully), and communication is easy. Many new hunters prefer small game or bird hunting as introductory hunts for these reasons.

hunting dog with hunterHunters have many different strategies, but one is as old as mankind itself: having a dog as a hunting partner.

Now there are 30 officially recognized sporting group breeds, according to the American Kennel Club, and many dogs—of any breed!—can be taught the essentials to be an excellent hunting companion.

But when did hunters begin using dogs?

An Ancient Friendship

Dogs may have been used for hunting as long as 20,000 years ago, when early humans were still hunter-gatherers and agriculture had not yet even been invented! In fact, dogs are thought to be the first animals humans domesticated, before cows and sheep.

Archeological evidence suggests that several species of wolves, coyotes, and jackals may have begun staying near human camps. Some theorize this nearness to humans led to the domestication of dogs: friendly, submissive wolves and wolf-hybrids were allowed to stay near the camp, eating scraps and breeding with other friendly dogs, while bold and aggressive wolves were driven away.

Either way, humans and dogs evolved in tandem. Dogs appear alongside hunters in ancient cave paintings all around the world. Evidence suggests that dogs were used as hunting partners, guard dogs, and even to haul heavy items, from about 12,000 years ago. Selective, intentional breeding likely came about 9,000 years ago, as herding dogs began to appear. Not every dog was ideal for every type of prey or job, and over time dogs diversified into the hundreds of breeds now available.

Types of Hunting Dogs

Today’s hunting dogs fall into three main categories, with several breeds belonging to each category based on appearance and abilities.


Terriers are small dogs used to hunt small game, such as birds or rabbits, as well as to track wounded large animals such as deer. These dogs are still commonly hunting companions in other parts of the world, but they have largely become house pets in the U.S. Examples include Airedales, Jack Russell terriers, and rat terriers.

Gun Dogs

A gun dog’s job is to pursue game animals that are hidden. They are able to find a prey animal’s scent in the air at close range, will flush birds and small game, and some retrieve downed animals. Gun dogs are particularly useful when hunting upland and wetland game, birds, and small mammals. Examples include Labrador retrievers, English pointers, and the English springer spaniel.


A hound needs to be built for stamina, as its task is chasing running game. They typically have loud barks and excellent noses; some specialize in treeing game such as squirrels, raccoons, and even bears until their hunter arrives. Hounds excel at hunting deer, coyote, wild boar, rabbits, and foxes. Examples include the mountain cur, the black-and-tan coonhound, and the American foxhound.

Learn More

As with any “tool” in the hunter’s kit, it’s important to do your research before you bring home a hunting dog. Learn more at the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association, United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club, or pick up a copy of Gun Dog Magazine when picking out your new best friend.

An average of 20 hunters per year die, and many others are permanently impaired by disabilities, because of tree stand falls. That’s why August is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month, so hunters remember to brush up on essential tree stand safety practices. Hunter Ed supports Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month, and has a few simple tips to keep hunters safe.

Tree stand falls are the number one cause of serious injuries or death to deer hunters, but they are preventable if you follow these basic steps.

1. Wear a fall-arrest system, which includes a full-body harness.

2. Stay connected to the tree the whole time you are off the ground.

3. See that your buddies do the same.

Tree stand harnesses are one part of a fall-arrest system (FAS). Components should include a full-body harness, a lineman’s-style belt (or a climbing belt), a tree strap, a tether, a suspension-relief strap, and a lifeline system. When used properly, these components can protect hunters from a dangerous fall. Always follow manufacturer recommendations when using your FAS.

Any hunter who can’t wear an FAS properly should stay on the ground.

You and those you hunt with should always use a full-body harness and lineman’s-style belt or lifeline to stay connected to the tree from the time you leave the ground until you get back down. Following these simple steps can save lives.


Elmer Fudd

Image source:

He is one of the most famous hunters in the world, with his many hunting trips broadcast to TVs and movie theaters around the world—for more than 75 years! Though it’s true that he began his on-screen hunting before hunting education began, we think he especially could benefit from a bit of safety education.

Elmer Fudd, sir, perhaps you should take a hunter safety course. Here are a few reasons why:

1)   Wear enough blaze orange to be safe.

While it appears you do wear at least a token amount of blaze orange on the side of your hunting cap and at the neck of your collar, that’s nowhere near enough to be truly safe!

State regulations vary, but it’s generally recommended that you wear a daylight fluorescent orange had and daylight fluorescent orange outerwear, such as a shirt, vest, or jacket. This makes it easier for other hunters to see you, helping minimize accidents (you seem to have a lot of accidents!).

2) Watch that muzzle!

You’ll have fewer accidents if you follow the four primary rules of hunting safety:

  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
  • Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun.
  • Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it.
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot.

Not to be disrespectful, Mr. Fudd, but you regularly violate these essential rules almost every time you appear on screen. A hunter’s education course will help you really understand why these rules are so important!

3) Practice safe field carries.

While you’re in the field, in order to follow that first rule of firearm safety (keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times!) you need to have good control of your firearm. Hunter safety will teach you several safe field carries. As you often carry a break-action rifle, perhaps you would be comfortable with a cradle carry?

4) Know your quarry.

Undoubtedly you have a lot of experience pursuing that big rabbit (and sometimes that mouthy duck), but how well do you really know your quarry? For example, a rifle isn’t usually the right firearm for hunting small game such as rabbits and ducks. (And dynamite is never appropriate!) Granted, you are hunting much larger-than-usual animals, but putting more time into researching your quarry before the hunt will greatly increase your odds of success.

5) Research hunting seasons before the hunt!

While it’s clear that you’re up against some wily prey, you probably ought to take a little time to research the hunting season for your area. Don’t just depend on the sign on that tree, since we know that both the duck and the wabbit you hunt are tall enough to change the sign on you! If you research beforehand and have the proper licenses, you won’t be fooled by this gimmick.

6) Sight-In Your Rifle and Become a Good Marksman

It appears you have missed your target—even when it is right in front of you! You may need to properly sight-in your rifle. If that’s not what is determined to be the problem, perhaps you need to do some target practice—off the field!—so that  you can know your accuracy limits. Hunter education can help with all of that.

See, Mr. Fudd? There’s a lot you can learn with a good hunter education safety course—and you can even take it online! Now that you’ve reached the end of our list, there’s only one thing left to say: