Brancher Ethics

Air Gunner - - Your Letters -

I read with in­ter­est the ar­ti­cle in your July is­sue on the ethics of shoot­ing branch­ers. The feel­ing here is that if the non-hunt­ing fra­ter­nity were to read this, their first im­pres­sion would be that of dis­gust at killing such a young crea­ture, whereas if we look at the big­ger pic­ture, the meat we pay good money for is

largely slaugh­tered at an early age, beef cat­tle around 18 months, lamb 6 months and chick­ens at a very ‘haven’t seen the world yet’ two months.

The next part of the ar­gu­ment would be that the rooks are not be­ing killed for their meat. How­ever, when adult they will cause dam­age to crops that are des­tined to find their way to our ta­ble in one form or an­other, so we are pro­tect­ing a food source.

In a Hugh Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall pro­gramme from a few years back, ‘A Cook On The Wild Side’, had HF-W in one episode rem­i­nisc­ing and then demon­strat­ing, with some older gents, about how dur­ing the war it was quite a com­mon thing for young rooks to be taken from the nest and used in pies to sup­ple­ment the mea­gre ra­tions. In some cases, the young birds were teth­ered to the branch to re­strain them un­til plump enough for the pot. Not sure I would ven­ture down this road, but it does demon­strate that in days gone by we were a tad more ro­bust about th­ese is­sues.

Mike McGre­gor

Hello Mike, I re­mem­ber the TV show you men­tion very well. I like HF-W be­cause he’s unique among TV chefs. I re­ally be­lieve he gets out into the coun­try­side to for­age and also to shoot for the ta­ble. I’ve seen film of him shoot­ing pheas­ants and pi­geons, plus lamp­ing rab­bits, all of which he has pre­pared in front of the cam­eras.

I agree that most of what we eat is slaugh­tered young, which is sim­ply be­cause that’s when they make the best eat­ing, but in this con­text it’s more a prac­ti­cal mat­ter of shoot­ing them when we are able. Ed.

If you can find the rook­ery you have a chance to re­duce their num­bers

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