Great news for hunters, the mourning dove now has an open season in Ontario. This is a bird that’s been commonly hunted in the U.S. but until this year hasn’t been open in Ontario.
The season started September 5th in Southern Ontario and runs until November 13th. Hunters have a daily limit of 15, and a possession limit of 45. That means you can shoot 15 per day, and have a total of 45 at home in the freezer!
By all accounts, these birds are both excellent sport and excellent eating. They’re fast, cagey yet plentiful. I saw numbers somewhere that said there are easily 10′s of millions of these birds, so hunting them is unlikely to make a dent in the population.
Like many animals, these birds are everywhere until you go to hunt them. Then they’re nowhere to be seen. We’ve actually shot two to date. The birds are tiny, there’s a reason daily limit is 15 – that’s hardly enough to feed a family. To put it in perspective, a breast might make two hors d’oerves about the size of one of those cocktail hotdogs. Not very big at all. It’d take about 4 birds to even put a dent in a meal for one person.
However, as advertised, these birds are delicious. They have their own taste, they’re not strong, gamy or greasy like goose and they’re not dry like pheasant. No wonder people are such fans of these birds.
Remember these are migratory game birds. That means a couple of things when it comes to hunting. First, you need a federal migratory bird stamp to hunt them in addition to your normal hunting requirements. You can pick these stamps up at your local post office. Secondly, you have to use steel shot – lead shot is illegal for these birds.
For shot, we’ve been using 2 3/4″ steel shot, #6. I feel that the shot size is about right, and a 3″ shell like one might use on a duck or goose is going to be too big. You don’t want to shoot the bird and have nothing left but a poof of feathers.
Hunting the birds normally means using some decoys along fencelines or treelines. Decoys are cheap, I picked some up for about $40 for 8. The decoys just pin right to a tree or fence.
However we’ve had no success hunting them in the wild to date. Instead we have permission to hunt at a farm, and the birds land in the pasture outside the barn. That’s where we’ve had success so far – if you can call two birds a success.
In the end, these birds seem to be everywhere in large numbers. So find a spot, put up your decoys, and enjoy!