In the feather
Although the camaraderie, countryside, sport, drinking, eating and talking rubbish are all important aspects of a day’s shooting, it is vital we remember that the basis of our sport is going out to hunt for food. Otherwise we might as well be continental types who shoot anything and everything, and what use would Brexit be then? More seriously, forgetting this would give those who seek to ban shooting a bit more ammunition.
As a result, whenever travel arrangements allow, I make it a rule to take a brace with me at the end of the day – no matter how full the freezers already are. The first time I was given oven-ready birds by a shoot, it seemed like a good idea. It is a lot more convenient than birds in the feather, especially now few of us have a cook and butchers aren’t allowed to sort the birds for you. You don’t expect to have to butcher your own pig before picking up a pound of sausages, do you?
But then, we aren’t just picking up a packet of food, are we? We’re game shooting, which has rather a lot more to it than browsing Tesco online. Plucked, gutted and shrink-wrapped might make things more convenient, but then it’s more of a hassle to kill it yourself, isn’t it? While I have shot with people who seem to think I don’t want to kill my own birds so are happy to shoot them before they get to me, it is the fundamental point of our sport. As is the whole process of being given a beautiful brace of birds by the keeper, who checks through a few so that you know you are being given the best available.
In the Samuelson household, it is then a family activity to prepare the birds, with the womenfolk doing the plucking and the men doing the drawing. This ensures that the next generation is being brought up in the knowledge of where our meat comes from – and more vitally what forms the most critical foundation of our sport.