How to Clean and Cook a Mourning Dove

by Jeremy Hoefs

The mourning dove contains only a small amount of meat.

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With flying speeds averaging 30 to 40 mph, the mourning dove is a challenge for even the best shooters. And because the birds range across North and South America, hunters from around the world take on the challenge of dove hunting. The dove resembles a slender, streamlined pigeon with a body length of about 11 to 13 inches that results in a small amount of meat. With proper cleaning and preparation, you can enjoy dove meat as an appetizer or a complement to a complete meal.


Cut off the wings with a game shears or sharp scissors.

Hold the dove in one hand and poke your thumb into the body cavity just above the breastbone.

Pull the dove into two pieces so you are left with the breast in one hand and the head, entrails and feet in the other.

Peel the skin off of the breast and remove any excess feathers.

Cut the breasts off the breastbone with a sharp knife by following the natural curve of the bones.

Rinse the breasts with cold running water to remove any remaining feathers or blood.


Pour two cups of Italian dressing into a large mixing bowl.

Place the dove breasts in the Italian dressing and allow the meat to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the dove breasts from the refrigerator and wrap each breast with one slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Preheat the grill to low-medium heat.

Grill the dove breasts for 20 to 40 minutes, turning them occasionally.


  • Most dove hunting seasons take place during warm seasons, making it essential to have a way in the field to keep the doves cool. For example, you can carry a cooler or container to keep the doves cool and dry. The goal is to prevent any bacterial growth before you can clean the doves.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Based in Nebraska, Jeremy Hoefs began writing fitness, nutrition, outdoor and hunting articles in 2006. His articles have been published in "Star City Sports," "Hunting Fitness Magazine" and RutWear field journals, as well as on the Western Whitetail website. Hoefs graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University.