The mourning dove, that paltry, sporting little bird that whistles when it flushes and turns at sharper angles than a duck ever could when it spots a hunter in a field of sunflowers or corn, has lost its “songbird” designation in Minnesota. Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a bill making it a game bird into law. Hunters in the Upper Midwest will partake in the most social of a hunts this fall, a communal style of hunting that used to be practiced in Minnesota. The state’s last season was in 1946. Not that this happened quietly: Reinstating the dove-hunting season was, and still is, controversial.
Opponents of the bill say a dove has scarcely more meat than a robin. Hunters who’ve eaten dove know it’s a delicacy. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) fought the bill the whole way, saying a dove season would serve no wildlife management purpose. No surprise there, HSUS is arguably the biggest anti-hunting group in the United States. The Sportsmen’s Alliance (www.ussportsmen.org) spent years fighting for this bill. The Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Rifle Association (www.NRA.org) and other groups have successfully worked to establish dove hunting seasons in Ohio and Wisconsin and defended seasons in Rhode Island and California. In the Twin Cities, hunters had quietly marched wearing orange caps; their governor got the message.