Good news, poets! Now there is a second association between
dove and romance besides the overworked rhyme. South Carolina Governor Mark
Sanford ,when not �saying goodbye� to his Buenos
Aires consort over Father�s Day, last year was dispatching mourning
doves in Cordoba, Argentina.
The �official state
trade delegation� as it was called by the Post Chronicle which included men and
women, �VIPs� and aides was paid for by Sanford appointee and cabinet member
Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor.
News reports don�t
give the name of the dove hunting lodge in Cordoba where the wing shooting took
place. Was it JJ Caceria�s Estancia where, �It is normal to shoot between 1,000
to 1,500 shells per hunter per day,� according to the website and, �Hunters
regularly use two guns and a reloader to prevent barrel overheating� thanks to �no
bag limits or seasons�? Photos show mountains of deceased birds in front of grinning he-men.
At daybreak, �the birds started flying, and it
was nonstop until we quit shooting at 11:30 or around 5 pm. Notice I said we
quit shooting. The doves were still flying when we left as we were completely
worn out from shooting,� writes Mike Bland of Houston, Texas, on the lodge�s
�I have never seen
so many dove [sic] and have never [sic] a more fulfilling hunt in my life,� wrote
William Holliday of New York.
�Both of my boys became members of the Club 1,000
for shooting more than 1,000 birds in a single day -- a proud papa moment,�
wrote John Horton of
Of course, Horton doesn�t have to go all the
way to Argentina to teach his children bloodlust. Most states, including
Sanford�s South Carolina, offer �youth dove hunts� for children as young as 8,
though bag limits can be as low as 15 and adult takes count toward the child�s
bag limit, so don�t try anything.
The light gray-brown mourning dove (Zenaida
macroura) with its iridescent neck patches and long, tapered tail (�macroura�
means �large� and �tail�) is the closest relative to the Passenger Pigeon which
was hunted into extinction in 1914.
Yet the common American backyard bird is also
the nation�s most hunted bird, causing ethical and public relations problems
�Virtually every issue that puts hunting or
wildlife management issues in the hands of the public starts out with hunters
up against the ropes,� lamented the National Rifle Association website when
dove hunting bans appeared on several state ballots.
Not only is the dove cherished as a songbird
and symbol of peace, it�s not guilty of overpopulating or eating crops or
Nor are 3.5 ounce doves filled with shot that
has to be picked out of anyone�s idea of a favorite meal.
A recipe for �dove with mushrooms� calls for
16 dove breasts -- hello -- and doves grilled in barbeque sauce, according to
another recipe, and wrapped in bacon and jalape�os all but disappear wrote a
disappointed outdoors writer.
How many have been bequeathed to bird boys
(who didn�t want them either?)
Even the mourning dove�s life span is
controversial and a PR problem for dove hunters. Hunting sites give it as one
year -- read: not much of a life anyway -- while the San Francisco Bay Bird
Observatory records a mourning dove living 31 years and 4 months. Big
Of course it�s the other gun Sanford used on
Father�s Day that has gotten him in trouble with three of the most influential
women in the United States -- his wife, the former Jennifer Sullivan of Lake
Forest, Illinois, and Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.
And now people are asking the usual ethics and
judgment questions about Sanford: if a politician will cheat on his wife who
won�t he cheat on? If a politician will lie about sex what won�t he lie about?
If a politician will squander taxpayer money on this, what won�t he squander it
Absent from the public discussion is if a
politician gets a thrill out of killing -- repeatedly, for no reason and
without a fight -- what else is wrong with his mental health?
Nor is anyone pointing out that the mourning
dove used to be called the Carolina Turtledove and doesn�t leave its mate.
Martha Rosenberg is a Chicago columnist/cartoonist
who writes about public health. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.