MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- With most people, the preparation of a meal begins with an evening in the kitchen. With dove hunters, meals begin with a sunrise in the field.
Sept. 1-15 is dove-hunting season here in Yuma and many hunters come from all parts of the country to bag their limit on Yuma's ranges.
"Last year we had a number of officers from all over the country show up," said Del K. Maslen, a station range warden.
"People definitely do eat the birds that they hunt," he said. "They fry them, stew them and even make tacos with them. Next year I think it would be a good idea to have a dove cook-off, where the hunters can share their recipes."
Many of the hunters have their own creative ways of turning the dove into meals, said Maslen.
One of those hunters, Cpl. Johnathan Killian, a ground support technician with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, went out at the break of dawn Sept. 13 to catch ten of the swift flying birds.
"It usually takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to catch my limit when the birds are flying really heavy," said Killian.
This time he was able to bag his limit after nearly four hours of hunting the elusive dove.
"Most of the birds have already started to migrate, so there aren't many to shoot at today," he said.
Another hunter, Michael C. Potter, a ground support equipment mechanic with H&HS, agreed with Killian.
"They are just about killed out Ñ you got ten people shooting at the same bird," said Potter.
After a morning of shooting, the hunters went back with full bags and birds to cook.
"I am going to take them home, clean them and eat them," said Killian. "I usually soak them in salt water to draw the blood. The birds taste less wild when you soak them
"Then we usually take them and batter them and put them in a deep fryer."
"I think they taste like liver," said Potter.
If you want a chance to taste your own dove, there are some regulations that must be followed.
"The hunters have to follow Arizona Department of Fish and Game rules and regulations. There are also rules the commanding officer of the base imposed on the hunters for safety concerns," said Michael A. Waliszewski, a range warden.
There is a bag limit Ñ hunters are only allowed ten Mourning and White-Winged Dove a day, of which no more than six can be White-Winged. Also, only twelve gauge shotguns are permitted.
According to Maslen, Yuma provides some of the best dove hunting grounds in the country.
"We have high hopes that one day Marines and retirees will come from all over to hunt during dove season," he said.