This being hunting season, when greens are scarce and meat would have sustained us, I will share some of my wild game stories with you. Traditionally the meat that would have been available to the Commoners (that’s us) would have been Rabbit and Wood Pigeon, with Pheasants poached from the rich people…
The first time I ate Rabbit was when the owner of a greyhound handed a dead rabbit to me and my friends on the GU canal in Brentford. The dog had raced off and killed the rabbit of its’ own accord. I skinned it with the help of my then boyfriend, he cut off the head with an axe whilst I skinned. I peeled the skin from the hind legs up to the neck. I kept wondering how it would feel if it was done to me. It did make me squirm. We boiled it in a pot in a tipi on our shared Permaculture allotment and whist we were waiting, a very sensitive vegan type we knew came and had a chat. She couldn’t even handle someone eating a supermarket chicken sandwitch.
“What’s in the pot?” she kept saying.
We didn’t have the heart to tell her, we kept fibbing.
It tasted like chicken, but more tender.
Myself and my then boyfriend were on a bike ride along the North Downs Way when the car in front of us hit a male Pheasant. He was still warm, but his neck was broken and he was gone. I admired his chestnut and satiny green-blue beauty, his feathers light and warm gossamer. I said a prayer then put him in a pannier. We camped in Guildford Woods (illicitly) and I plucked him, I can’t honestly remember if I gutted him or not. We cooked him on a spit over a camp fire, with roast potatoes and carrots in the embers and a Cep mushroom I had found in the woods at the end. In the morning we got kicked out by a ranger who had spotted our fire smoke.
He tasted like bloody chicken again. Tasty though.
I was gifted two shot wood pigeon when I moored my boat in Rugby. A local boaty guy had an air rifle and had been catching them for food. Wood pigeon has been known through the centuries as the poor man’s food, so I wasn’t expecting much. But what a surprise!
I plucked the two birds (I didn’t hang them or anything, letting maggots drop out is not my idea of appetising), then basted them with a blob of butter and honey and roasted them for 40 mins in my vintage 1970’s boat oven. They are only little, so you may get away with less than this, but I was being cautious.
The dark meat was delicious, rich and gamey. this has to rank as my favourite wild game, and I have had deer too, but good pigeon is still my favourite.
As far as ethics go ,I feel happier eating something when I know it has had a good life doing what it does rather than being farmed.
What do others think? Im aware this a controversial topic!