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Hunting, fishing and Gathering For The Pot

I need to set the record straight at the outset. I do not in any way advocate sport hunting or fishing. However there is an important niche for the sustainable gathering of wild resources.
BUT...How its done is important. It absolutely must be humanely done or not at all.
When it comes to slaughtering a beef animal, pigs, sheep, or poultry we demand absolute humane slaughtering. How many of us would happily eat a cut of beef knowing that it has been shot with a high powered rifle? Knowing that the bullet smashes through the shoulder blade and destroys the lungs. The Animal then "quickly" drowns to death in it own blood or dies of shock taking any time between 30 seconds and 10 minutes.
Like this.....

Similarly, would we eat a chicken that had been incapacitated by first breaking its legs and piercing its intestines with fine shot and then been brought "home to its master" alive by a dog, only to have its head wrung off?
Makes you think doesnt it?

As for those pro-sports hunting who think I am a bunny lover and don't know what I am talking about, don't be mistaken. I have worked for 15 years in the wild life and safari industry as a game ranger in National Game Reserves and private game reserves and have had a great deal of experience in hunting. I have had the doubtful "privilege" as keen hunters might view it, of culling a few hundred elephant. Of culling over a thousand antelope, as well as many so called problem animals in the call of duty. Animals do suffer. Not the same as humans, but they do experience shock, terror and pain. Hell why do you think that governments the world over demand humane slaughtering of domestic animals?

I rest my case!

So hunt and fish by all means. I still do. Wild food is absolutely unique in flavor and texture and is mostly very very healthy food. But kill it humanely.
Some years back, sickened by the culling I have had to do in the course of my work, I resolved to kill animals only with upper neck shots and brain shots. This is an instantaneous Kill. Its even more humane than the electric shock used on pigs in some countries. I only shoot birds with a rifle and I only take head shots or selected body shots with an expanding bullet that kills instantly.
It IS difficult and it DOES take a lot of skill; but hey if you enjoy guns and stalking and so forth, you will love popping off thousands of rounds on the range until you become a dead shot. Believe me, most people can be come extremely accurate shots through sheer practice and repetition.
My weapons of choice are .22 Diana 38 air rifle and .22 Brno rim-fire. Both with open sights because I rarely take shots outside 50 meters.

If I hunt medium size antelope then I use .308 or a rare .22 hornet. I no longer hunt Elephant and heavy game. I don't have a big enough deep freeze and I do not tolerate waste!

Lets go on a bird shoot for a traditional bird relish stew to eat with the staple diet of the majority of Southern Africans. That is  mealiepap or polenta as it is internationally known. Everywhere in rural and even in the more sprawled suburban parts of Africa you will find small boys wandering around with the ubiquitous "catty" or slingshot/catapult dangling in their back pocket. It is often not as smart as the one illustrated, but rather cleverly crafted from a carefully whittled forked stick and red inner tube. A piece of leather, traditionally from the tongue of an old shoe, serves as the missiles receptacle.

Unlike small boys in European countries,our small boys shoot birds for the pot. My only objection is they shoot ANY birds. However, at least it is not wasted; it all ends up getting eaten.
For us more fortunate people with an air rifle, hunting birds is a much more precise activity.
I choose graniverous birds such as doves. finch family as well as the fruit eating green pigeon. Generally graniverous birds are lower down on the food chain, occur in greater numbers and are less susceptible to over exploitation. The most successful way of collecting the 5 or 6 doves necessary to make an adequate bird relish stew is to sit quietly under a tall branchy tree near the water where doves drink. From 3 o clock in the afternoon onwards is the best time. Patiently sitting for 2 hours is normally sufficient and is one of the most relaxing forms of recreation that I know of!

 If you happen to be near a river or lake, then it gets better and better, because you can also tend to a fishing line at the same time.

Its important to bleed out and pluck the birds immediately. This can be done as you sit quietly under your tree waiting for the next bird. Best method is to sever the head completely with a sharp knife against a tree trunk. In the same way remove the lower legs at the joint. Leave it for 3 or 4 minutes to bleed out and then start plucking. Doves are incredibly easy to pluck when they are still warm. You may be interested to know a theory for this The dove feathers fall out very easily in order to assist escape from predators. A bit like a Lizards tail I suppose.
Because small birds are, well small, and fiddly to work on, I have a method I use to gut and clean them. Cup the breast side of the bird with the vent up and the severed neck down on a handy log or branch, and using your very sharp knife, cut from the vent right down to the neck, through the bones alongside one side of the spine. You need to just enter the body cavity without cutting too deep into all the piping!  Then open the bird up and scoop out the innards. Cut off the tail piece too, because it contains oils used for grooming. Wash the bird thoroughly in the water nearby and put it to drain next to you.

Even if you plan to roast the birds, they can be opened this way and then pinned back together with toothpicks for cooking. (it is also much easier to stuff them like this) You will find that there is not a lot of meat on a wild dove apart from its breast and even less on smaller birds. As I said earlier on in this page, don't shoot more than you need. Get your 5 or 6 and then go home and look forward to the next time you go out.