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Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

How One Food Blogger Caused a Firestorm For Texas Parks and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of Ryan Adams

The dove that flew into Ryan Adams' house was both a blessing and a curse.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been receiving hate mail from around the country thanks to the gastronomic adventures of an Austin-area food blogger. It all started when the man’s unlikely dinner literally went bump in the night.

Ryan Adams was watching Project Runway with his wife when it happened.

“All of a sudden there was this loud BAM!” Adams remembers, “And we realized it came from outside.”

He walked into his backyard and saw something lying in the grass by his house.

“It was very dark,” he says. At first he thought it might be a bat.

“It was actually laying right here next to the fig tree,” Adams says, pointing to the location of the animal’s demise. “I came over [and] picked it up. It was just a dove. It didn’t have any sores, any lesions, it was perfectly fine.”

That’s when the thought dawned on him. Eat the bird.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Adams

Adams' wild dove on the grill

“I had a lot of friends who are hunters and they are going out and shooting doves at the exact same time,” Adams says. “I thought, ‘Those suckers are doing the hard work, and this one just came to me.’”

So Ryan looked up a recipe for grilled quail a la mancha. He cleaned it. Then grilled it. And ate it.

“It was fantastic,” he remembers.

And in a crucial twist, he then blogged about it. Adams is a prolific food blogger, with a focus on cooking (and lusciously photographing) nose-to-tail eating.

The headline for his post? ‘When Life Gives You Wild Game…’

That was followed up with a post by Adams on the popular social sharing site Reddit. “I thought this was kind of an off-the-wall thing, so it was something I wanted to share,” Adams says.

The Reddit post got about 2,000 hits. Then he started getting calls from a couple of reporters.  

One of those reporters mentioned that, by eating a found dove, Adams had actually broken Texas law. This came as a surprise to him.  But, the thing is, it’s true.

“It is illegal to possess wildlife resources, and the white-winged dove are a migratory game bird on the wildlife resource list,” says Steve Lightfoot, a spokesperson for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Adams

The finished product.

He says Adams technically did break the law. If a bird flies into your house and dies, you shouldn’t eat it. The law is in place for a couple reasons.

“A lot of those regulations were born out the need to restrict commercial harvest,” Adams says.

There’s also the matter of people getting sick from eating diseased animals. Lightfoot recommends that Texans restrain themselves from picking up dead creatures found on the ground, not matter how appetizing they appear.

“We have had incidents where we are seeing sick dove die off, so that is a concern,” he says “We don’t want people or pets retaining or eating sick birds.”

But even though Adams technically broke the law, Texas Parks and Wildlife let him off with a warning. Lightfoot says there was no formal investigation, and he contacted Parks and Wildlife first.

“We wanted to reassure him that this was one of the rare instances of ignorance of the law and we gave him a warning,” Lightfoot says, “And we believe everything is good.”

Well, not quite. One of the reports by a Dallas TV station about the incident said that there was an ongoing investigation about his culinary adventure. It included the headline “Dove Dinner lands Texas Man in Hot Water with Law.”

Adams says that once that reporter posted his story, things got crazy. It went viral. “It just got bigger, and bigger, and bigger,” he remembers.

Adams got thousands of hits on his blog. And he started receiving letters of support from around the country. Some a little too enthusiastic. “At one point somebody told me if a bald eagle flew into the house I should eat that,” he says.

Adams also posted on his blog that he was no longer under ‘investigation,’ and that the situation was under control. But that didn’t stop the incorrect story that he was under investigation from popping up seemingly everywhere. The Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, Yahoo! News. They all carried the story based on the Dallas TV report.

“This whole mess is being chalked up as a learning moment,” Adams wrote in an update on his blog, “And I’ll ensure that going forward any wild game that comes into my possession will be done in accordance with the law. As a matter of fact I still need to cook a woodcock, and there is lots of time for me to attend a hunters safety course before the season starts. I’m pretty sure they are not native to my area, so don’t expect any “woodcock flew into my house” stories in the upcoming months.”

“And that – hopefully – is that,” he finished.

But Adams kept getting emails supporting him in his non-existent fight against Parks and Wildlife. He wondered what kind of emails the Department could be getting. So he reached out to a friend who worked there. 

“She said to me, ‘I know the person that has to deal with all of this and he has forwarded a couple emails to me, and they were fairly … interesting.’”

That made him feel even worse. So he decided to apologize to Parks and Wildlife in person for all the ruckus. 

On a recent morning, Adams surprised staff members at Texas Parks and Wildlife headquarters with a gesture of peace. But it wasn’t a dove.

“I brought some donuts for you guys,” Adams told the staff. They were happy to see him and the treats.

“Is this what we call locally sourced food?” one staffer asked Adams.

“Hope you didn’t leave them downstairs,” another joked. “The game warden just went down there.” 

Another chimed in. “We only have one question for you now … got any good dove recipes for us?”

As they say, ‘No harm, No fowl.’

Elizabeth Trovall is an intern with StateImpact Texas. 

Comments

  • http://free-range.org FreeRange Pamela

    Nice piece! Love him bringing donuts. That’s awesome.

    • Jean Adams

      He is my son and he is awesome! Ryan has a heart of gold!

      • AdamsQJohn

        Of course he does. He’s an Adams, after all! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/MildredTeeHempel63 Mildred Tee Hempel

    I did not know about that law so I am glad you posted this.
    I only shoot Doves with My camera I hope that is okay :)

  • LowGun

    Ever wonder how these birds got their common name? It’s obvious. This one just dove into the house.

  • isi

    Game laws violate common sense sometimes. They are in place to prevent over harvesting and unsafe hunting practices as well as respect for private land ownership. But they get don’t seem to make any sense in matters like this one. Other states have much more complex and even for the lack of a better term “stupider laws”. We are sort of lucky.

  • A. Rea

    Iit dovent make sense that you can’t, with proper precautions, eat your windowkill.

    • briecee

      Especially since, unless you blog about it, how is the government ever going to know?

  • Robert Adams

    Well done, son. Well done.

  • homebuilding

    I’m rather certain that I’m not the only one whose enjoyed ‘take home’ food, after the tens of thousands of annual wildlife/vehicle collisions.
    A pheasant was particularly memorable–absolutely delicious
    (and eat with abandon as there is no chance of shot remaining)
    Keep a plasticized ‘recycle/grocery bag’ available in the trunk, in preparation for your eating pleasure.
    Concerns, here, about law enforcement are wildly overblown (keep the best feathers for your hat, or if it’s a mammal, make a hat) ! !

    • Inner Voice

      You just made me smile about your pheasant story. It would have been my parents. I also remember my sibling hitting a deer once and having the highway state patrol call wildfire and recreation who then asked my brother if he wanted it to take home once he determined it was not diseased and mangled beyond safe for consumption (bone shards can be dangerous). The game warden had an actual list of hunters/non-hunters who could be called at all hours of the night or day to pick up the carcass for consumption. Much better than having it rot on the side of the road.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1194547391 Jesus Manuel Rojas Torres

    I would have never eaten that pigeon, I would have buried it. I think they are beautiful and I associate them with the Holy Spirit.

    • briecee

      Leviticus specifies that doves can be used for offerings, and Jesus’ parents offered doves as a sacrifice in the temple. I appreciate the sentiment, but you can unburden your conscience: there’s no need to be more pious than God. ;)

  • bsrk7

    Oh jeez, this reminds me of the whole imbroglio we’ve been having in Michigan between Baker’s Green Acres and the DNR.

    Once the DNR announced they were cracking down on feral swine before they became a problem in the state, hunting ranches and a select few pig farmers who raise them started crying that the DNR was in cahoots with the pork industry and was ending our right to family farming. Then they lied and said the DNR was conducting armed raids against farmers, and the story blew up all over the Internet. To this day you can find dozens of “news” articles from The Blaze, NaturalNews, Grist, etc. that are repeating this tripe, despite none of it being even remotely true.

    At least NPR ran an article that got to the bottom of it, sort of. Not that it changed the minds of the Ignorati.

  • pamelafree

    This tale reminds me of a quail that broke it’s neck on a wire fence right in front of me on a Thanksgiving morning years ago when I had no dinner plans. It was just about the right size for a roast fowl for one. How could I leave it to the bacteria and fungus?

  • pedram

    well, sounds a bit heart breaking for me. this little, innocent and helpless dove being grilled and bloged through the net. maybe eating it is an individual decision but broadcasting the story and photoes, not, I say.

  • homebuilding

    When times get tough, and they may…….

    there are more than a few softies here, who will starve, along with their progeny.

    This is a very sad truth–

    sometimes, you don’t want all of the basic skills to disappear, even as electronic gizmo worship has reached a fever pitch, and the related abilities are needed for many settings.

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