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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Struck Strikes Out: Iowa, leave the mourning doves alone

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Many years ago, in another life, I used to come home from work, slip into something comfortable, grab my guitar and a beverage, and journey out to my second-floor deck where i would while a way an hour or two playing and singing music - just me, myself and I.

Oh, and Bill & Coo.

Bill & Coo were a pair of mourning doves who spent many spring, summer and fall hours in the large lilac bushes in my backyard. I didn't bother them and they didn't bother me.

As time wore on and they became less leery of me, Bill & Coo would hop onto the deck railing and just sit there a few feet away, gently pecking on the wood deck, caressing each other with their beaks, warbling their wonderfully relaxing sound, and, I firmly believe to this day, enjoying my music.

They were especially fond of melodic Neil Diamond, Gordy Lightfoot, and Kenny Rogers songs, while lively Credence Clear Water Revival, Bob Seger, and Dylan numbers freaked them out - some even driving them back to the sanctity of their lilac perches.

Bill & Coo
It wasn't long and I was putting out a little food (bread and cracker crumbs, seeds, etc.) and water on the railing for them and they would peck away while I strummed away. For several months, this was among my best of times.

I relive this very pleasant time of my life because the Iowa Legislature is again entertaining a proposal to bring about a hunting season on mourning doves.

Proponents say that other states shoot doves and make money off the hunters, so cash-strapped Iowa should join the party.

Those against a dove hunting season say hunters would simply slaughter doves for target practice, not for food or game management as the proponents spin it.

The truth is, Mourning doves are known as the farmer's friend. They are ground-feeding birds that eat pest weed seeds. They pose no threat to agricultural crops, homes, or anything of value to people.

The hunting of mourning doves has been banned since 1918 in Iowa. The shooting of doves is not a tradition in Iowa. As small birds, even if shot properly, doves have very little "edible" flesh on them. Doves are even an important source of food for protected birds of prey such as eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls.

Personally, I think there are enough animals already being shot through hunting seasons. And for sure fire away at the carnivorous wild animals out there who would hunt us down and and eat us if they ever have the chance.

But, come on...mourning doves?

Bill & Coo?

You know, that other life of mine didn't last too long, but I sure hope Bill & Coo did. We were great together. We shared something very special during those wonderful man and nature concerts on the deck.

And today, to think of some grinning camo freak with face paint sighting in on one of them and pulling the trigger just because the Iowa Legislature sighting in on dollar signs says he can, breaks my heart clean through.

Call your congressman folks, and you'd better hurry.

And then go find your own Bill & Coo. You'll have the time of your life. I promise.

(To reach your senator: 515/281-3371; To reach your representative: 515/281-3221; To reach Senator Mike Gronstal: 515/281-3371; Governor Terry Branstad's number is 515/281-5211.)