Looked down on with as much disdain as any legal bird, the pigeon has a bad reputation among sportsmen. It’s a shame, though, as these birds have a lot to offer.
Pigeons, which are known as rock doves to game agencies, were introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1600s. The birds found a liking to North America’s habitat, and have since spread from Alaska to South America. In South Dakota, they’re as thick as anywhere, holding up in the silos and machine sheds of the rural areas of the state.
As an invasive species, most states have no protection over the bird. This gives hunters the chance to harvest as many as they want whenever they want. It’s a hunt that requires little gear… or skill.
When I hunt pigeons, I like to tag team them with a buddy and spread out in the high traffic areas. Splitting up between spots like feed lots, silos, water holes, cattle pastures, and silage piles keeps the birds moving between bursts of gun fire. They’ll often make two or three low circles before dropping into a spot, and don’t seem to mind the presence of a blue jean wearing hunter sitting on a bucket.
If you think they’re carp of the sky, then you haven’t actually tried one. Most hunters love dove, and a pigeon isn’t much different. Their diet is incredibly similar, in that both pigeons and doves around here get fat on grain. I might even argue that pigeons have the upper hand, with breasts that are twice the size of mourning doves.
Step into the world of invasive eats with this recipe, which is a fresh take on the worn out bacon wrapped doves that every hunter seems to have in their arsenal.
8 pigeon breasts
1 package of taco seasoning
3 large green peppers
1 can of corn
½ of an onion
½ of a tomato
½ cup of mushrooms
Dice up the pigeon breasts, potato, onion, tomato and mushrooms into very small pieces, about half the size of your fingernail.
In a hot skillet with olive oil, cook the onions and potatoes for three minutes.
Add in the taco seasoning, pigeon, corn and tomato and cook for three minutes, or until the potatoes start to brown.
Remove seeds from green peppers and cut in half.
Grill them at about 350 degrees for 10 minutes with a little olive oil brushed on.
Once the green peppers seem soft and start to wrinkle, add in the pigeon and vegetable mix until full.
Grill for five more minutes, and add shredded cheese at the end.
Serve with salsa and sour cream.