Meat Guns And Hand Grenades

June 27, 2014

I love my .17 hmr, I do.

There’s something about shooting it… that tiny little report with that non-existent recoil but so deadly, scary-accurate…  it’s just awesome.

But as a meat gun?

Not so much.

Even with CCI’s 20gr “hunting” bullet, it is just too devastating.  I know, I know.  Keep it to headshots, and everything is cool.

And that works, for the occasional jackarabbit, or tree squirrel.  And even then, all it takes is a breeze, a shudder, an untimely muscle twitch, and you’ve blown dinner into little, bone-ridden pieces.

Consider the Eurasian collared dove.

There, did you consider it?

He’s not a big bird, although a healthy adult is a bit larger than a mourning dove.  He’s made of tasty, tasty meat.  He’s plentiful.  Here in Texas, there’s no season or limit. What’s not to like?

Occasionally, like this afternoon, I can sneak out the front door and whack a couple for dinner with the Marauder (I love my Marauder too, but I already said that, earlier).  Unfortunately, I could only manage to bag one, which is, for me, a half a meal.  I needed one more.  I sat out on the porch with Iggy, the “what the hell is a bird?” dawg, and we waited and we waited.  Of course, as I type this now, there are two on the oak tree, just above the feeder.

But then, I had other things to do.

I was out at the barn, when I noticed the birds were gathering along the edge of the trees.  I assume they were waiting for the deer feeder to go off.  Mixed with the white wings, mourning doves, and Inca doves were a bunch of Eurasian collared doves (folks down here call them “ring necks”).  Unfortunately, the Marauder was up at the house, and the birds were 80 yards away.  Fortunately, the .17 was right there.

I’m no Annie Oakley, much less Carlos Hatchcock.  Making an 80 yard headshot on a dove… well, it might be pushing my abilities a little bit.

The first shot shattered the branch, but the bird flew away.

The second shot ripped through the leaves, but ruffled not a feather.

The third shot ruffled a lot of feathers.  In fact, when Iggy got up there, that’s pretty much all he could find.  I went up to help him, and finally discovered the rear half of a dove.

I carried my “prize” back down to the barn when a new flock came sailing in.  I figured I’d try once more.

You know, even if you hit a dove right at the base of the neck with the .17, it pretty much explodes.  Honestly, I was sort of thinking that on such a small, soft target, the bullet would blast right through.  No.  It didn’t.

I have a new definition of finesse cooking.  It’s grilling the legs and thighs of a dove while sipping my third scotch of the evening.

(And yeah, those of my friends or readers who are “real” cooks or chefs… laugh into your own sleeves.  I’m sure you have some frenchified technique for this.  There’s probably even a name for it.  But me?  I’m just having my Friday night drink on the range, making the best of what Ma Nature dropped by my doorstep.)


12 Responses to “Meat Guns And Hand Grenades”

  1. Dave on June 27th, 2014 19:37

    Hope you have food in the freezer. Otherwise, you are likely to starve.

  2. Phillip on June 27th, 2014 22:01

    Ha. The bright side is, deer and elk are MUCH bigger targets. Still got lots of whitetail in the freezer. You need to come down and help me clear some of it out before CO Elk season!

  3. Meat Guns And Hand Grenades | on June 27th, 2014 22:54

    […] Meat Guns And Hand Grenades […]

  4. Joshua Stark on June 27th, 2014 22:59

    It reminded me of the technique that Hank uses to take care of bony shad — honegiri.

  5. Chad Love on June 28th, 2014 09:53

    Nothing tastier than a Eurasion collared dove shot off your bird feeder, although my neighbors might object to doing it with a .17… but I may have to break down some day and get one…

  6. Phillip on June 28th, 2014 10:01

    Ha, Josh! I knew someone would have something… too late now. What’s done is digested.

    Although truth be told, I have Hank to thank for convincing me to pluck doves and cook them whole. A little olive oil, salt, and pepper makes for fine dining. But it helps to have a whole dove.

    Chad, you’re probably right about the neighbors. I use the air rifle on the birds on the feeder, since my neighbor’s house is probably within range of the .17. And truly, after yesterday, the .17 is permanently off of collared dove patrol. It’s just too wasteful.

  7. SBW on June 29th, 2014 10:36

    We have ‘woodies’ and collars here and very tasty they are too, like Chad it’s not practical to use a hummer, so I think a live trap is the way forward, as i often find myself wishing another would come when needed. Ho hum, hunting not shopping ext

  8. Phillip on June 29th, 2014 20:41

    Sten, that’s a good thought, but I have a feeling I’d be spending all my time releasing the white wings and Incas. I’d say I see about 80% white wings down here, with the remainder mixed between mourning doves, Euros, and Incas (a protected species).

  9. Neil H on June 30th, 2014 07:44

    I can’t wait for dove season here. I have a friend who’s place out in the valley is encircled by almonds. Here in SF, our local Eurasian doves might not be so appetizing.

    This is a slight tangent, but you, Phillip, might be a great person to ask about this. I’ve been thinking of a .17 for a while now, for all the usual reasons. My only concern is it’s fate in the face of California’s looming lead ban. Though I hunt large game lead free, I question how well a lead free bullet will perform in a round that already is only 17 or 20 grains. Thoughts?

  10. Phillip on June 30th, 2014 08:29

    Neil, the .17hmr may actually be a better choice than a .22lr in CA, since the lead-free ammo I’ve been shooting (CCI) is actually quite good. Your lead-free options for the .22lr are very limited, and the performance sucks. I’ve also found that the lead-free .22lr rounds don’t want to cycle my semi-auto.

    Even with lead bullets, the .17 is really susceptible to wind, especially out around 100 yards, so the same issues occur with the lead-free bullet. However, most of my experience with the lead-free has been pretty positive. On a calm day, I still find them really accurate all the way out to 150 yards, and I’ve made plenty of clean kills on jackrabbits out to 100 yards. If I had to complain about anything, the fact that they’re frangible is a mixed blessing. I don’t worry so much about ricochet, but they are devastating on meat (worse than the lead… which is pretty devastating in its own right). If you’re shooting for the pot, go for the head shot.

  11. Alex Hoover on July 1st, 2014 12:20

    “I was sort of thinking that on such a small, soft target, the bullet would blast right through” — I had this same thought once on a fall turkey hunt when I shot a hen with a 300 Win Mag. Didn’t turn out well.

  12. Phillip on July 3rd, 2014 15:42

    Alex, I wondered about that here while deer hunting last fall. You can use your rifle to take turkeys, but I was calculating shot placement options and the likely damage the .243 would do… can’t even imagine the .300.