How to Field Dress a Dove: Tips for Beginners

How to Field Dress a Dove: Tips for Beginners

Doves are a popular game bird, prized for their tender meat and mild flavor. They’re also one of the most challenging birds to prepare because they have so many small bones that must be removed before cooking. Here is an easy, step-by-step guide on How to Field Dress a Dove.

For beginners who want to how to clean doves while out in the field, here is a couple of different methods and some basic equipment that you’ll need. You need a set of game shears or even a pair of kitchen scissors that are heavy-duty enough.

Certainly game shears work as well or sometimes they’re called poultry shears. Also, some gloves and a couple of zip lock bags or something to hold the birds in themselves is necessary for this activity.

Do not forget essential tools for field dressing dove

Breasting the Dove

This dove dressing technique that a lot of hunters use in the field and it’s pretty simple. The method doesn’t require a lot of equipment.

First, you need to have the Dove on its back having its breasts exposed to you.

Second, this allows you to just pinch in the middle as you try to grab some of the skin. The skin is pretty easy to rip open once you’ve got a hold of it and what you’re gonna do is expose the breast.

Breasting the Dove

Third, keep peeling it back opening it up once until you’ve got the breast fully exposed. At this point, you’ll see that keel bone right through the center and you’re just going to pull away any of the feathers.

Fourth, find the bottom of that keel bone right at the base of the breast and

push your thumb into it so you get your thumb up underneath that keel bone under the breast bone.

Fifth, ensure your thumb is well in to grab that breast with your hand. Also, you need to grab the the lower portion of the dove where the legs are and start pulling it away.

Sixth, ensure you don’t get the wings on the top side of your hand because you’re not trying to separate the wings in order to stay legal. You have to keep one fully feathered wing attached to the bird of the meat as you’re going home.

Once you peel that away you’ve got your full breast and two of the wings which you only need one. Always wear gloves because it helps keep your hands clean.

cliping the wing before dove breasting

Eight, determine which wing you need and don’t clip the wing  off before you do the breasting. This is because sometimes there is a broken bone or one of the wings will come off, so keep both wings attached. After choosing the wing skin it back as far as you can.

Nine, clip it off and you’re done and then go ahead and rinse it off.

The brushing method is just a quick simple method for breasting out your doves that provide you all the breast meat. The vast majority of the meat in the Dove is in its breast.

Plucking the Dove

Plucking doves is easy if you want to do the dressing faster. It is not common to use this method in field dressing a dove but some hunters prefer it.

Doves are a whole lot easier to pluck than a duck or a quail. Doves feathers are much easier to come off. For starters, when plucking breast feathers do not grab a lot of feathers it’s just a little bit of feathers at a time,

Also, while plucking these game birds try to work in a pattern. If you are focusing only the breast feathers, start right on the breast and slowly peel a few feathers off at a time until you see some skin.

plucked dove

After reaching the skin of the dove, just pull in the direction that the feathers are growing. some people actually peel in the opposite direction.

If you end up having any holes in the skin due to the kill shot, work a little bit more carefully around those holes. This is to ensure you don’t rip it even further.

So just work your way around little by little less incase the hunter pumped a one or two holes into the body of these migratory birds.

shooting doves

If you get used to it, to clean doves become easier and ultimately you can work faster.

Experienced hunters can get a dove plucked in about two minutes per bird.

Remember, be careful with the skin since it is has a wonderful taste.

Dove Skin Meat is Just Yummy!

Just like other birds, dove hunts results to good meat. Apart from the wings and breasts, the dove skin has a wonderful taste and it also gives you a little bit of the extra meat that’s on the legs.

Ethical dove hunting

While using plucking method, you can keep both wings attached or defer one and keep the other one. The reason for this is because the federal law requires hunters to have one fully feathered wing.

When working your way around the body cavity, the tail is really easy to get out. You don’t want to pluck out all the feathers at once. Just pluck a few and work back on the backside of the birds.

Sometimes, the hunter may prefer not field dressing the birds immediately after the kill.

Ice Chest

Some field dressing techniques allows you to put the fresh dove in an ice chest a little bit. The reason is to allow for the dove skin to get colder.

Once the skin of the dove gets colder, it tightens up and makes it easier to pluck the feathers.

While plucking the transport migratory birds (doves) don’t go too far up the neck because you will later remove the head.

Note: In a proper field care process, do not start gutting the bird before plucking. This ensures that feathers do not get inside the body cavity causing a mess when cleaning the bird.

Removing internal entrails

If you remove the internal organs and there are no feathers it stays a lot cleaner in the overall. However, there can bit a bit of feathers on the legs compared to the wings that are a bit trickier to pluck.

Just keep working your way in a simple pattern back and forth trying to expose everything. Some of the smaller feathers come off pretty easy. Do not get too worried about ripping the skin out on the wings while plucking but a little pinching back and forth and they’ll come off.

Of course you are looking forward to a proper field dress care because you want  a whole bird with skin. Some people want a whole bird’s carcass to make it easier for roasting.

Roasting Doves after Field dressing

When it comes to the neck, check it out by feeling if the bird was feeding before you shot it. To get out the feed-like lump in the neck of the carcass of the dove is kind of push them up so you can get a good cut across the neck.

Just cut the neck bone first and not try to break it open. This will allow you to pull off a few feathers and so take out the feed-like lump from the neck just above the joint.

Field Dressing a Dove and Cooking It!

Once you get the dove on its back make one small nip in it so you can reach inside and remove some of those internal organs and entrails. You can cut deep and open it up. Slide your slide finger in there and start pulling out all the entrails.

Removing the dove entrails

If you go deep enough you will hit the heart and feel the lungs which are soft (Get them out and rinse later).

Just try to make sure you get the major pieces out.

These are simple ways to clean out your doves before you take them home.

Also Read: 6 Best Decoys for Succesful Dove Hunting

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