Yesterday I drove 1 1/2 hours to go visit a business located in central Florida. For those of you non-Floridians, this means that there is poorer cell phone reception, lots of cows, farms, dirt roads, and tractors. Yup, we have left civilization behind. Watch out for the natives.
Actually, Floridians are a kindly lot, and pretty civilized, wherever you go. But there is definately a 'redneck' feel in central Florida; there's no getting around it. Can I get an "amen" from my fellow Floridians?
A central Floridian is what you might call "The Salt of the Earth." They like hunting and fishing, have a faint southern accent, are very charming, vote Republican, go to church even if they don't believe it, still say "Yes ma'am", and open doors for you. If I tried to open the door for them, they'd be stymied.
The group I met with was mixed. It is owned by a couple wealthy central Floridians who went away to school, are very educated and interesting, but... you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. So, of course, the conversation turned to hunting.
Whenever I think of hunting, I think of Elmer Fudd. "C'mon, Wover! Let's go hunting!" Perhaps that cartoon shaped my entire feeling about hunting. I've never been at peace with it.
However, I have a brother who went inexplicably redneck for a while, and took up hunting. We'd argue about it constantly, but he pointed out that as long as the animals are being used for meat and fur, what was wrong with it? And I had to agree with him. Still, the entire idea leaves me squeamish and you won't find me out huntin' wit' da boys. I have this small suspicion that hunting scars the soul, just as working in a meat-processing plant would. There is nothing to back that feeling, though. In fact, the hunters I know are usually much better people than the sissified lounge lizards and city boys back here.
During my conversation yesterday, I discovered that there are actually hunting parties put together to hunt dove in Mexico. That was a new one on me!
Apparently Mexican farmers were so riddled by doves (which are considered to be a pest akin to rats there) that they were poisoning them left and right. There were reports of some farms where dead, poisoned doves were piled as high as a two-story building and set on fire, to prevent rotting and contagion.
Yet dove meat is apparently a tasty treat, so someone put two-and-two together and actually got American hunters to pay to spend time in Mexico and do their pest control for them. Who said that Mexicans are stupid?
Intrigued, I asked for more details. They told me that hunters only keep dove breasts (that's all you can get out of dove) and that its a tender, purple-colored meat. They tell me you can get roughly two bites out of each breast, and it takes about 6 doves to feed a hungry boy. Before you turn your nose up at this, remember that they used to eat pigeon in the 1800s and before, which is closely related, and it was considered just fine to do so.
They also donate any doves that they don't take back home with them to the hungry families in town, so the town is now thriving.
The Mexicans in that area have invented a tasty way to prepare dove, as well, and talking about it made their mouths water. They take a breast, place a piece of cheese, a jalapeno pepper, and some spices on it, roll it up and hold it together with a toothpick, and grill it. They tell me it's close to a religious experience for a hunter.
This summer they're going to Mexico to hunt for the first time. And they've promised to bring me some dove.