Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Turkey and Eurasian Dove

Wild Turkey Enchiladas
“I’ve become a little obsessed with turkey hunting lately”- Justin

It has been over a month since my last post. School has been very busy and in addition to classes I have been presenting my research at professional conferences, conducting artifact analysis with my colleagues and working on drafting up some new papers for peer-reviewed journals. The bottom line is I have had less time for foraging…but that being said, we still got out for some fishing and hunting.
Eurasian collard doves are an invasive species. They were originally introduced to the Southeastern United States in the mid 1980’s and have subsequently spread to nearly every state. In fact, after giving a presentation on the antiquity of bird hunting to the Avian Ecology Department I spoke with a lead bird expert on campus who informed me that Eurasian doves had spread across our country faster than most any other bird! So what does this mean for us?
Well, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has realized the potential threat this species may pose on our native Mourning Dove and has made it policy that Eurasian doves can be taken year round, no bag limit, and can be taken even with pellet rifles…and my brother Justin just got a new pellet gun!
Over Easter Sunday as the ham cooked away in the oven, my brother and I spent a few minutes here and there stepping out back into the orchard looking for birds. The conditions were perfect. It was overcast all day, like an extended morning; great weather for bird hunting!
When we were kids Justin had showed me how to cup my hands and blow into them to create a mourning dove call. In fact he used to call these birds into the orchard with great skill. I searched the internet recently and found an audio clip of Eurasian dove calls and adapted our hand calling trick to this new and distinct pattern. Sure enough within a few minutes I had brought in three birds! I missed a shot but Justin got a nice Eurasian dove that afternoon! We are now hooked!

We also called in a hen wild turkey, but only Tom’s are in season during the spring. Though a few gobblers called incessantly from a distance, we had to hang up the box call and sit down for Easter brunch before we could entice them into range.
Justin headed out a bit later that week with his good buddy Eric and after sighting in their pellet rifles at 30 yards they located a nice Tom. Justin closed the gap to precisely 30 yards, used a pair of shooting sticks to steady his aim and made a perfect clean shot. The Turkey dropped instantly and we now have an abundance of high quality meat and feathers to fletch our homemade arrows!

 Justin cleaned the bird with his homemade knife!

Even the bones were boiled for soup stock
Well, got to run! More artifacts to be analyzed…but we plan on another hunt-and-gather this weekend…I will keep you posted! Keep the old ways alive!

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