Best season to eat pi­geon

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - SPORTING ANSWERS -

Is it true that the best time to eat pi­geon is in the au­tumn?

There is never a bad time to eat pi­geon — with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of when they are feed­ing hard on win­ter rape, though the ef­fect of this on the meat can be min­imised by emp­ty­ing the birds’ crops as soon af­ter shoot­ing as pos­si­ble. The mat­ter of whether au­tumn pi­geons are the best is open to de­bate. There are few things finer than a sum­mer-fat­tened squab plucked and roasted whole. Th­ese young pi­geons are tasty in the ex­treme, lack­ing the strength that the older birds can ex­hibit and that poor cook­ing can

to en­joy pi­geon ex­ac­er­bate. How­ever, later broods fat­tened on beech and acorn crops can have a de­li­cious nutty qual­ity to them.

The is­sue with au­tumn pi­geons is that of­ten there are a lot of older birds, pos­si­bly even mi­grants, mixed in the flocks and they will be tougher, deeper in flavour and less likely to be so in­flu­enced in flavour by their most re­cent diet. It is al­ways worth as­sess­ing your birds for age and con­di­tion no mat­ter the time of year.

I won­der also if the chal­lenge of shoot­ing pi­geons as they flight in to roost, rather than de­coy­ing over the sum­mer stub­bles, makes them seem tastier, be­cause the shoot­ing is a lit­tle more sat­is­fy­ing and there­fore the re­wards seem greater? TM

There is never

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