Opening day of any wild game season is exciting for hunters and their families. Dove season is the start of this excitement in my home which carries throughout the hunting season. Before the season starts, I think it is a good idea to keep everyone reminded of how to keep their wild game as safe as possible from the field to the table.
Dove hunting with your buddies is not only fun but can also be nutritious! A 3 ½ oz. portion (before cooking) of game bird meat has about 150 calories and provides half the average daily adult protein requirement. Wild game birds, if handled improperly may become contaminated with bacteria or gastric juices. Remember the following tips during hunting, storage, and food preparation to reduce your risk of food-borne illness.
· Be prepared for the hunt!
o Bring a sharp hunting knife, a whetstone or steel, light rope or nylon cord, plastic bags, clean cloths or paper towels, and a cooler filled with ice.
o Abide by all game regulations for hunting, transporting, and storage of wild game.
· Field care and transport
o Wear latex gloves while cleaning wild game.
o Do NOT harvest and eat sick or abnormal birds.
o Wipe out the cavity with a clean cloth or paper towel, do not use grass or snow, this may contaminate the bird.
o Do not cross contaminate. Wash hands, knife, and cutting board with hot soapy water and wash thoroughly.
o Store birds in a plastic bag on ice to keep them clean and cold. Keep birds under 40°F. If cooler is not available, put the birds in the back seat in the shade.
o Do not transport birds in the trunk of a vehicle, this does not allow heat to escape from the birds.
· Safe Processing
o For immediate use, birds should be stored in the refrigerator at 40°F or less and used within 3 days. For long-term storage, the whole cleaned carcass may be frozen at 0°F or lower. Freezing the meat while it is fresh and in top condition will enhance the quality of the meat.
o Freeze game meat using moisture/vapor-proof wrap such as heavily waxed freezer wrap, laminated freezer wrap, or freezer-weight polyethylene bags. Wrap tightly, pressing out as much air as possible. Label the packages with the date and content. Be sure to use the packages within a year.
· Safe Preparation
o After freezing, thaw the birds in the refrigerator or microwave. If microwaving, be sure to cook immediately after thawing.
o Fully cook game birds to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
o Game birds may be prepared like chicken.
Remember to have fun and stay safe this hunting season!
For more detailed information about caring for wild game, visit the KSRE publication link that is the source for this information: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf2177.pdf