Free Meat

Foods for free. Anything you want to post about wild foods or foraging, hunting and fishing. Please note, this section includes pictures of hunting.

Sorry to say that Selfsufficientish or anyone who posts on here is liable to make a mistake when it comes to identification so we can't be liable for getting it wrong.
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margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:52 pm
Location: Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Free Meat

Post: # 225267Post Mortimer657
Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:27 pm

As a newbie to the site i thought i'd add a little something of my own, and i'll apologise in advance if this one, or a topic similar, has already been covered.

Theres a cheap as chips meat source on offer in the UK, farmers, especially cereal/vegetable etc farmers , will be more than happy to let you harvest for nothing. Its highly nutritious, low fat and delicious, you dont need a licence/FAC in most cases, exception being if you want to use a shotgun for pheasant or WoodPigeon or a .22LR/17HMR rifle for rabbit and the like, a 12ft/lbs air rifle will more than suffice. Im talking of course about wild Game, in this case those classed as vermin. Rabbits, WoodPigeon and even the invading Grey Squirrel and Balklans native, the Dove can all be eaten and are absolutely delicious. They cause hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to ceral and vegetable/fruit crops every year and whats more , there is no shortage of them. What i'd like to do is give a very brief outline of a really simple method of getting your hands on this free source of meat.

If you live in a rural community chances are you are going to be surrounded by fields, woods and farmland as it is, so there is a good chance you are going to have easy access to ground over which to hunt. If you dont live in a Rural setting then dont worry, you are bound to be within a short driving distance of suitable land. Im in Portsmouth, definately not surrounded by endless rolling green fields, however a short drive over the hill, not 10 minutes away and there are literally hundreds of farms.

Getting permission is the hard part in all of this 95% of the time. I find using, typing farms or farmers and then your area into the search boxes, then clicking the option for "maps" will highlight all of the farmers in your vicinity and further afield also. Even better is clicking the "Sattelite" option so you can actually get a look at the lay of the land itself. By moving the cursor over the numbered indicators you'll be presented with the names and addresses of the farm/land owners. Mark these down and type up a polite well written letter explaining your intentions. Indicate that you are a responsible shooter, are willing to tackle any vermin problem that exists on their land and will be consciencious of any livestock/paddocks and property on said land. I have a template of my own available for those who are at a loss as to how to word this letter, just ask and i'll gladly PM or e-mail it to you. Include a Stamped, self adressed envelope with your letters. Farmers are very busy people and this will show forethought for their situation and will no doubt mean the difference between getting a reply or your letter being filed in the bin. Giv them a contact number and e-mail also. I wont lie to you, it may take a fair few letters before you'll get a lead. I wrote upwards of 20 and got only 2 or 3 replies, and i considered myself lucky. However bare this in mind, once you get the foot in the door on one patch of land and prove your worth, your name will get passed on to other farmers at meets, market gardens and farmers sociable outings and the like. 99% of my shooting permission has come by way of word of mouth. Never underestimate the power of "reputation".

Once you've secured your first lead you'll then have to arrange to meet the farmer/landowner. Arrange to meet him at his/her land/property (remember the part about them being busy people). Dont do what one friend of mine did and get out of the car and take your rifle bag out of the boot as if intending to get stuck right in. This will look presumptious, remember at this stage your meeting with them to discuss what kind of permission they are allowing, what particular species is causing them a problem and boundaries of the shooting permission they are giving. By all means have your kit in your boot so that you can show them what you intend to use. If anything this will only make you look professional and considerate. Take a long a typed up agreement of permission for them to sign once and if, they agree firmly to allow you to shoot on their land. This is mainly for legal purposes, as on occasions i've had ramblers stop to ask why im shooting the "lovely rabbits" angrily, and announcing that they are going to inform the landowner. If you have the written permission on you then you can peacefully make the point your there on the landowners say so. Always better than getting into a verbal battle over a fence.

Now, what about kit? Now, were jumping BACKWARDS a little here as ideally you'll already have your own kit before you approach landowners/farmers for shooting permission. However i covered that topic first as it tends to be the one people find most frustrating when they first set out. So, Kit.I personally own and use a .22LR Savage MkII and .17HMR Browning T-Bolt for longer range rabbit and hare work and a Howa 1500 .308 for deer however these all require you to be in possession of an FAC (FireArms Certificate) and are only for those who really want to expand their options for free meat, purely because the extend the range at which you can shoot and kill cleanly, plus in the case of the .308 it means larger game are an option.
I also own 3 Air Rifles.....sub 12ft/lb legal limit rifles. If your over 18 you can buy these and they are more than enough gun for rabbit, woodpigeon,dove and Grey Squirrel. A good quality spring powered, gas ram or even PCP air rifle need not be out of anyones budget and there are options out to suit all builds and budgets. They will pay for themselves many times over. Consider this, a tin of Air Arms Field pellets (roundhead) in my favoured .177 Calibre will cost around £8-10, there will be 500 pellets in the tin. Each and every one of those pellets is capable fo dropping the intended quarry. You do the math. A mix of 500 rabbit, woodies, greys and doves. Thats a hell of a lot of meat for 10 quid :icon_smile: .
Choosing whether to buy secondhand or new is entirely up to you. Though remember, when buying new , your almost certain to have the back up of a good warranty, should any problems arise with your kit early on. Below i've given a handful of links to good , relatively afforadble rifle kits including rifle and scope:

Air Arms TX200 mkIII: I own one of these myself, they are spring powered underlever rifles , requiring no refilling from divers tanks and will last a lifetime. To top it all they are deadly accurate. ... details/10

BSA Lightning: These are break barrel sporters, cheap as chips, though some are raising concerns over build quality since GAMO Spain took over their manufacture: ... details/27

Weihrauch HW-95K: Like the TX200 these are built to last a lifetime, deadly accuract and reliable: ... details/56

Air Arms S400 (classic full length or Carbine upto you): This is a single shot PCP rifle. You'll need to budget for getting these refilled or buy your own divers tank, i own one, they are deadly accuract and whisper quiet: ... details/12

Air Arms S200: Cheaper than the S400, and come with the added optional extra of a ten shot magazine, giving you more firepower at the throw of a bolt. They are, again, deadly accurate and reliable, people are raving about these rifles: ... details/11

There you have it. A small selection of well priced kits which will include the rifle, scope + Mounts, gun bag/slip and targets (for zeroing your scope and practicing marksmanship with). All you have to do is buy some pellets, zero the scope and put it to the use its intended for. While on the subject of marksmanship, remember its only fair to ensure you dispatch your quarry cleanly with the minimal suffering, so do them a favour and put in the time practicing with your combo. You need to attain groupings of an inch or less, what we call "killzone accuracy", out to 30-40 yards. Dont worry, once you learn the basics of scope zeroing and marksmanship this shouldnt be too difficult. Its strangely addictive as well, you have been warned :lol: .

Rather than explaining in my own waffling tongue about the hows and whys of scope zeroing and marksmanship, i've took the liberty of including a few links explaining it better than i ever could:

Mounting and Zeroing your Scope: ... Scope.html

Marksmanship Principles: ... nship.html

So, you have your (hopefully) have some permission to shoot over. You now need to know what you after and where you should be aiming to ensure a clean kill.

I wont go into the details of identifying the Grey Squirrel or rabbit as these are pretty ubiquitous and easily identifiable, even for children. What i will do however is give a quick link to the WoodPigeon and Dove, as some people may find them hard to distinguish from the dirty city dwelling rats with wings:

Wood Pigeon (Columba Palumbus):

Dove (Streptopelia decaocto):

As a quick point to note, with the dove alone, they arent upto much one their own and by far the best option is if you shoot a few of them and then mix in with woodpigeon breast. Kind of an extra something to bulk a meal up. They are also a little tougher than WoodPigeon breast and so, are best off cooked slower and longer. They are tasty however, rest assured.

Aim Points. Were talking here of course of the all important kill zones on the quarry species suitable for airgun dispatch. I'll give a nice brief outline below, What were looking here is an instant or very nearly instand kill. This is only fair to your quarry species. Believe me, i served 12 years as a Special Forward Observer and Tactical Air Control Party soldier with the Royal Artillery's 29 Commando Regiment and despite the menal conditioning you'd think that would impart, i still feel terribly guilty if i make an error of judgement and wound an animal, and then have to finish it off at close range. Bare in mind also that sooner or later you may just "wing" a bird or be left with a twitching rabbit. Therefore you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty and do the right thing, by putting it out of its misery. I've read on various other threads here about members having stretched the necks of their chickens, when they are too old to lay for example, so for these individuals finishing an animal off shouldnt pose too much of a problem. However i mention it here for the sake of being thorough.
So, those aim points (assuming the use of a sub 12ft/lbs Air Rifle only):

Rabbit: Draw an imaginary line from the animals eye to the base of its ear. Roughly a third to half way back behind the eye along this line is the optimum aim point for a clean kill. With the rabbit and a sub 12ft/lbs air rifle im going to say stick to this kill zone only.Body shots are not a good idea, you wouldnt want ole bugs to crawl back to his burrow and die slowly. Brain shots such as this will result in one cleanly dispatched rabbit. Zero Suffering. Making a clicking sound with your tongue before taking your shot will usually get the rabbit up listening intently, therefore showing a good side on view of the head. If you havent tasted rabbit i'd say its like a "gamey" flavoured chicken being a little firmer in texture. The are best cooked nice and slow to allow for maximum tenderness.

Grey Squirrel: These are notoriously tough little critters and again im going to say headshot only, considering again the kit were using. As with the rabbit, a third to halfway back between the eye and the base of the ear is fine and will result in a clean kill. These are about as ethical a dish as you could ever serve. They are on plague proportions, have assisted (along with declining food source) in driving the native Red Squirrel to near extinction and to top it all off they are very tasty and low in fat. It taste is something between duck and lamb. It's moist and sweet because, basically, its diet has been berries and nuts. I'd cook these slowly again to allow for maximum tenderness.

WoodPigeon: Headshots and neck shots are fine and will ensure a clean instant death. However you have more options with these, assuming the use of a sub 12ft/lbs air rifle. You can , when seen from the side, aim for just forward of the round wing fold/shoulder into the upper chest cavity. This is whats known by the hunting community as "putting it into the boiler room". The heart and lungs are all contained here and so a pellet here, as with the head shot, will ensure no or minimal suffering. Definately do not shoot these too low down on the neck where the neck meets the upper chest. This is where the birds crop is and this can be crammed full of food. The Ballistic power from your pellet will be greatly dissipated by the foodstuff crammed into these greedy birds crops and so may result in wounding rather than killing. Something we definately do not want. If your viewing these from behind you can drill a pellet into the upper back between the shoulders/wings. This will result in a clean kill also. The brests are the best on these and i'd reccomend a minute or two tops either side in a hot pan of olive oil with a little salt and black pepper. You want to serve these pink in the middle. Done correctly they will taste like sirloin steak. These really are deep red, rich, gamey and delicious.

Dove: Headshots and neck shots are fine again, though the heads on these are pretty small so care really has to be taken. I personally prefer straight on chest shots into the upper chest cavity with these, whether using .177, .20 or .22. They are lightly boned and so chest shots will ensure an instant kill. I wouldnt go for these alone but as an extra in, for example, a woodpigeon casserole. They are tasty , if a little tough (hence cook slowly to ensure tenderness) and make a great "bulker" to meals.

Sorry for any long windedness to those kill zone descriptions, however to stress one last time, its imperative we always do our uptmost to ensure our quarry does not suffer.

So, you've returned home with a game bag full of fresh, albeit unprocessed, meat. What do you do with it now? Again rather than make a bumbling attempt to explain how to gut, skin or pluck your catch im going to offer up some links. Im a great believer in the old Army adage of "monkey see monkey do". So here are some great links ot the simplest methods of game processing:

Rabbit (Squirrel can also be done in this manner): Ignore the ending. You do not have to cook your rabbit in this manner and then pick the meat from the bones though it is an option. Also included is a second link showing how to joint up a rabbit: (Best way to skin a rabbit by miles). ... re=related (this is the video i would use for advice on both skinning AND jointing a rabbit).

WoodPigeon/Dove: Tow easy methods of doing woodies and doves. Includes video descriptives on how to both pluck, de breast or crown a Woodpigeon (or a dove): (plucking and either breasting only, or gutting a whole bird for oven use). ... 6BFC1850FE (crowning a wood pigeon, my preferred method).

As you can see all the above video's make the job look easy, but to be fair its not that arduous a task. You'll be expert at it in no time trust me.

All this leaves me to offer up now, is a small handful of recipes. I wont give an exhaustive list. But these are just some of my favourites. Includes some video descriptives for added effectiveness.

WoodpPigeon (can include Dove): ... ure=fvwrel ... ure=relmfu ... re=related

Typed Recipes for Woodpigeon (and dove if wish):

WOODPIGEON STROGANOFF (recipe kindly donated by Henry D/Pigeonwatch.)

breasts of 2 woodpigeon cut into long 20mm thick strips
1/2 400gm tin of chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion sliced not diced
1 red pepper sliced not diced
1 tbsp of smoked paprika
1 oz of butter
142 ml carton of sour cream
A handful of chopped parsley

1 - Gently sweat the onions and pepper in the butter for 2 minutes then add the paprika and cook until onions are soft.

2 - Increase the heat and when it starts to sizzle add the pigeon strips and fry until all sides are sealed.

3 - Add the tinned tomatoes a little at a time so the pan doesn`t cool too much then add 1/2 the soured cream a little at a time.

4 - Check the pigeon strips are cooked to the doneness you like(pink for me) then throw in the parsley stir and serve with rice and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Pigeon Salad with Leeks

1 pigeon breast
1 tbsp olive oil
5 baby leeks
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
For the dressing
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
55ml/2fl oz olive oil

1. Brush the pigeon breasts with the oil and place in a hot pan over a medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, turning once. Remove from the heat and leave to rest.
2. Heat a griddle pan until smoking. Add the leeks, the oil and the honey and cook for five minutes, turning occasionally to evenly brown.
3. For the dressing, mix the red wine vinegar and olive oil in a bowl.
4. To serve, place the leeks in the centre of a plate. Slice the pigeon breast and place on top, drizzled with the dressing.

Pigeon in Red Wine Gravy

For the marinade
4 garlic cloves, sliced
½tsp picked thyme leaves
6 black peppercorns, crushed
4 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
8 wood pigeon breasts
For the gravy
2 tbsp sugar
200ml red wine
2 sprigs thyme
6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
For the roasted leeks
12 baby leeks, trimmed
1 tbsp butter
For the wild mushrooms
handful wood ear mushrooms, sliced
15-20 wild brown closed-cup mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Combine the garlic, thyme, black peppercorns and rapeseed oil in a small bowl. Using a sharp knife, score the pigeon breasts' skin lightly and rub in the marinade - leave for at least 20 minutes.
3. To make the gravy, combine the sugar and a few drops of water in a smallish, very clean saucepan and place over a high heat to caramelise. Once the sugar melts and has gone a dark golden brown, pour in the red wine. Add the thyme and the juniper berries. Cook the sauce until it is reduced by two thirds - this will take about 12-15 minutes. Season to taste, strain and keep warm.
4. Place the leeks in a saucepan of boiling, salted water and blanch for 10 seconds. With a pair of tongs, remove the leeks from the boiling water and plunge into a bowl of ice-cold water. When they have cooled, drain the leeks well.
5. Place the leeks in an ovenproof saucepan or baking sheet with a **** of butter. Transfer to the hot oven and cook until tender - this should take about 10-15 minutes.
6. Heat a griddle pan until hot. Season the pigeon breasts with salt and freshly ground pepper and place on the hot griddle pan. Cook for just a few minutes on each side until cooked to your liking, then remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place for at least five minutes.
7. For the mushrooms, heat a small frying pan. When hot, add the rapeseed oil and fry the garlic until golden brown. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until softened. Be careful - the wood-ear mushrooms can pop and splutter quite ferociously.
8. Serve the pigeon with the leeks, mushrooms, and a drizzle of the red wine gravy.

Pigeon Pie

4-5 pigeons, drawn
salt and pepper
250g/8oz stewing beef
250g/8oz shortcrust pastry
beaten egg to glaze
2 tsp cornflour
300ml/10fl oz stock

1. preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Joint the birds into two breast joints and two leg joints each and stew the rest of the carcass in a little water to make stock for the gravy.
3. Cut the beef into small pieces and line a deep 20cm/8in pie dish with these.
4. Lay the pigeon joints on top, cover with water, add salt and pepper, then cover the pie dish with greased paper or aluminium foil. Place in the oven and simmer for 1½ hours.
5. Remove from the oven and raise oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
6. Cover the pie with the shortcrust pastry, brush the top with beaten egg, put back into the oven and bake until the pastry is golden brown.
7. Make a gravy by mixing 10g/2tsp cornflour with a little cold water and add to 300ml/10fl oz of the warmed stock. Allow to thicken while stirring, season and serve with the pie.

Warm Pigeon Salad

4 plump wood pigeon breasts, skinned
200g/7oz smoked belly pork lardons (pancetta or even Ayrshire)
2 new potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced
3 handfuls of a selection of salad leaves (for example, roccolla, mache, endive)
100ml/3½oz walnut oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
50ml/2oz extra virgin olive oil
a few sprigs of thyme
a few garlic cloves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml/3½oz olive oil for cooking

1. Fry the lardons in half the olive oil until crisp and then set aside.
2. In the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the potatoes, set aside with the lardons in a warm place.
3. In a bowl, combine the mustard with the extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil and red wine vinegar.
4. In the frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil and cook the pigeon breasts with the garlic and thyme, turning and seasoning as they cook. The breasts don t take long, 2-3 minutes each side maximum. Cover and allow to rest.
5. Combine the salad leaves, ¾ of the dressing, lardons, potatoes and seasoning in a large bowl and serve on four large plates.
6. Cut the pigeon breasts into thin slices and arrange over the salad. Sprinkle over some sea salt and the remainder of the dressing. Serve immediately.

Pigeon & Black Pudding Pittas

4 pigeon breasts
4 tbsp Olive oil
400g cooked black pudding, sliced
200g Pancetta, or smoky bacon lardons
1 lemon, juice only
To serve
mixed green salad leaves
4 white pitta breads

1. Preheat the grill.
2. Grill the pigeon breasts for 12-15 minutes until the juices run clear.
3. Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and fry the pancetta until crisp.
4. Slice the pigeon.
5. To serve: arrange the mixed leaves in a bowl and place the pigeon breast, black pudding and bacon on the top. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Provide plenty of forks and allow the guests to stuff their own pittas

Pastilla (Morrocan Pigeon Pie)

200g Butter, melted
1 onion, thinly chopped
3 pigeons, boned and finely diced
4 egg yolks
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ bunch of Parsley, roughly chopped
½ bunch of Coriander, roughly chopped
200g whole blanched almonds
2 tbsp icing sugar
6 sheets of Filo pastry
4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and chopped
green salad, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
2. Heat a tablespoon of melted butter in a deep, heavy-based frying pan.
3. Add in the onion and fry gently for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
4. Add in the diced pigeon and fry, stirring, until the pigeon is browned on all sides, around 3 minutes.
5. Add in just enough water to barely cover the pigeon, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
6. Mix in the egg yolks, adding them one at a time and stirring as you do.
7. Cook, stirring, until the egg sauce coats the back of a spoon.
8. Stir in the salt, pepper, ½ tsp of cinnamon, parsley and coriander and mix together well. Set aside.
9. Heat a tablespoon of melted butter in a small frying pan. Add in the almonds and fry, stirring, until golden brown, around 5 minutes.
10. Cool the fried almonds then grind coarsely in a pestle and mortar or food processor.
11. Mix together 1 tsp cinnamon with 1 tbsp icing sugar, then mix thoroughly with the ground almonds.
12. Layer 4 sheets of filo pastry in a lightly greased, shallow, non-stick 20cm round pie tin, allowing the pastry edges to hang over the sides of the tin and lightly brushing each filo sheet with melted butter as you layer it.
13. Spoon the pigeon mixture into the filo case, then top with the almond mixture and a layer of chopped hard-boiled eggs.
14. Fold in the over-lapping edges of the filo pastry over the filling and brush the filo lightly with melted butter.
15. Lay 2 sheets of filo over the surface, gently tucking them in under the base and cutting off any excess.
16. Brush the surface with melted butter and pour any remaining butter around the edges of the pie.
17. Bake for 30 minutes, then carefully invert the pie onto a baking sheet.
18. Bake the inverted pie for a further 20 minutes, then carefully turn it over on the baking sheet.
19. Bake the pie for a further 10 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden brown.
20. Mix together the remaining cinnamon and icing sugar and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the pie.
21. Meanwhile, heat a metal skewer until it is red-hot. Use the hot skewer to brand a lattice pattern into the icing sugar mixture on the surface of the pie.
22. Serve with a crisp green salad.

Pigeon & Sage

4 pigeons, skin on
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp carrot, finely chopped
2 tbsp Celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 juniper berries
8 whole peppercorns
125ml Red wine
250ml brown chicken stock
½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
1 tsp Sage, chopped
2 tbsp Butter
Salt, and freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs of sage, to garnish
buttered cabbage, to serve
For the carrot and parsnip mash:
6 Parsnips, sliced
6 Carrots, sliced
3-4 tbsp Butter
Salt, and freshly ground white pepper

1. With a sharp-pointed knife cut the breasts away from the pigeon carcasses, keeping your knife towards the bones all the time.
2. Trim the breast fillets into a nice shape and set to one side. Chop the carcasses and legs into pieces, using a heavy knife.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add in the chopped pigeon pieces and fry until well-browned.
4. Add in the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, juniper berries and whole peppercorns, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring now and then.
5. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the saucepan with the wine, scraping the bottom of the saucepan to release all the tasty bits.
6. Reduce the wine until it has almost disappeared, then add in the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the cracked peppercorns, sage and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Keep the sauce in a warm place.
8. To cook the mash, cook the carrots and parsnips separately in boiling, salted water until nicely tender but not too soft. Parsnips, in particular, have the ability to 'soak' up liquid, which could make it a mushy mash.
9. Drain both vegetables well and mash them by hand or in a food processor, with the butter and salt and white pepper. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep warm.
10. To cook the pigeon breasts, melt the remaining butter with the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
11. When the butter begins to foam add the pigeon breasts, skin-side down. Adjust the heat so that the delicate breasts don't cook too fast. They should brown slowly, without becoming crispy. Cook for about 4 minutes, then turn over for another 2 minutes for medium-rare. When cooked, remove to a warm plate to rest for 2 minutes.
12. To serve, remove the skin from the breasts with a sharp knife and slice each breast in two.
13. Place a serving of the carrot and parsnip mash in the centre of four plates. Divide the buttered cabbage into four portions and place on top of the mash. Lay two slices of breast on top of each portion of vegetables. Spoon a little of the sauce over and around and garnish with a sprig of sage. Serve.

Pigeon and Pork Belly

3 tbsp Puy lentils
1 small bay leaf
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
5 baby onions
125ml White wine
2 tbsp Olive oil
25g unsalted butter
2 x 100g wood pigeon breasts
50g pork belly
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp clear honey
lemon juice, to sharpen, optional
salt and pepper
cooked Kale, to serve

1. Wash the lentils in cold water and transfer to a large pan along with the bay leaf, garlic, whole baby onions and wine. Barely cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender. This should take about 50 minutes; set aside.
2. Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat and add the olive oil and half the butter. Season the pigeon breasts with salt and pepper and sear in the hot pan for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest, loosely covered with foil.
3. Cut the pork into thick strips and season with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick pan over a moderate heat and cook the pork in the dry pan until golden and crisp – this should take about 6-8 minutes. Pour off any fat from the pan and add the vinegar and honey. Toss the pork strips in the tangy honey mixture.
4. Reheat the lentils, adding any juices from the pan with the pigeon breasts. Add the remaining butter to the lentils, season well, and add a little lemon juice to sharpen, if liked.
5. Scatter the pork strips over the lentils and accompany with the sliced pigeon breast. Serve with wilted kale leaves.

Pigeon, Parsnip & Spicy Chocolate Sauce

For the parsnips
4 Parsnips
1 tbsp golden syrup
salt and pepper
2 tbsp Olive oil
For the pigeons
4 wood pigeons
3 tbsp Olive oil
50ml Cognac
150ml Red wine
450ml chicken stock
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1 bay leaf
4 juniper berries, crushed
4 tbsp double cream
20g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
1 tsp chilled Butter
1 tsp salt and pepper
mashed potato, to serve
chopped flat-leafed parsley

1. Peel the parsnips and leave whole, or cut into half lengthways if they’re large. Boil in lightly salted water until cooked, but firm. Drain and pat dry. Leave on one side.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Remove the legs from the pigeons, chop into rough pieces and transfer to a heavy-based saucepan with about 2 tbsp of the oil. Fry, over a moderate heat until golden brown.
3. While the legs are browning, brush the pigeons with olive oil, season, and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. The meat should still be quite pink in the centre.
4. Add the Cognac to the pigeon legs, and tip towards the heat – the cognac should ignite. Once the flames die-down, pour in the wine and cook-down until reduced by half.
5. Pour in the stock, and add five-spice powder, bay leaf and berries. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
6. While the sauce is simmering, finish off cooking the parsnips. Warm the golden syrup with a dash of oil in a frying pan and tip in the tender parsnips. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown – about 10 minutes or so.
7. Add the vegetables and toss until golden brown, season with salt and pepper and serve.
8. Add the cream and reduce the sauce for about 2-3 minutes over a high heat - it should take on a pouring consistency. Strain the sauce and whisk in the butter and add the chocolate.
9. Carve the breasts from the pigeons and remove the skin. Serve with mashed potato, roasted parsnips, and the spiced sauce. Finish with a scattering of chopped parsley.

RABBIT RECIPES: ... re=related ... re=related ... re=related

Typed Rabbit Recipes:

Parisien Rabbit:


15 Juniper Berries

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

½ onion, finely chopped

Mungo lentils (green)

3 large slices of ham, or streaky bacon, cubed

2 heads of sage

½ teaspoon of Chilli powder (optional)

1 Rabbit, young, jointed

2 pints of water

Salt to taste



Crush the juniper berries gently in a pestle and mortar. Obtain a fresh rabbit; if it’s from a butcher ask him to joint it.

Fry the rabbit joints in the dripping until sealed. Fry the bacon, onion and garlic until soft.

Add all other ingredients and cook in the oven for 2 hours at 160ºC or Gas Mark 5.

Serve with green vegetables and mustard mashed potatoes.

Rabbit a la Espagnole:


1 young rabbit

2 glasses white wine

4 oz clarified butter

2 oz shallots

1 dessertspoon flour

1 teaspoon tomato puree

1/3 pt stock

6 oz mushrooms

Chopped parsley



Cut the rabbit into suitably sized pieces.

Heat the butter in a heavy pan and sauté the rabbit pieces and chopped shallots until nicely browned.

Work the flour into the fat in the pan, add the puree and, gradually, the wine and stock. Season and simmer gently for an hour.

Slice the mushrooms, sauté them lightly in butter and add to the rabbit. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Place the rabbit pieces in a serving dish. Reduce the sauce to a syrupy consistency, adjust the seasoning and pour over the rabbit.

Garnish with the chopped parsley.

Rabbit Chasseur:


1 rabbit and liver

4 oz butter

3 tomatoes

2 onions

2 glasses red wine


2 cloves garlic


1 red pepper (small) or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Bouquet Garni


Joint the rabbit and retain the liver.

Heat the butter in a heavy pan and stiffen the sliced liver for a moment or two. Lift it out and brown the rabbit joints.

Chop the onion, quarter the tomatoes, and add then together with the red wine, crushed garlic, red pepper, bouquet garni and seasoning to the rabbit. Add enough stock to just cover the meat.

Cover the pan and simmer gently for an hour.

Pound the liver and add this to the pan. Cook for 20 minutes with the lid off. If the sauce is not thick enough add a little beurre manie.
Remove the bouquet garni and serve.

Sauteed Rabbit:


1 young rabbit

6 oz butter

8 shallots

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 glass white wine

1 lemon



Joint the rabbit and rub the joints with seasoning.

Heat the butter in a heavy frying pan.

Brown the rabbit joints, then turn the heat very low and cook gently for about half an hour, turning the joints frequently.

Place the joints on a serving dish and keep hot.

Saute the chopped shallots in the frying pan, adding more butter if necessary, until they are soft but not coloured.

Add the chives and wine.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning and pour over the rabbit joints.

Garnish with lemon slices.

Italian baked rabbit with green olives & lemon


1 rabbit , jointed into 6-8 pieces (ask the butcher to do this)

olive oil

1 onion , finely chopped

2 garlic cloves , crushed

4 tbsp chopped parsley

oregano or marjoram, finely chopped to make 1 tbsp

2 lemons , zested and the juice of one, the other cut into wedges
a handful of green olives , pitted or whole

3 potatoes , cut into chunks

300ml white wine


Serves 4
Preperation 20 mins
Cook min 1 hr 30 mins
Ready in 1 hour 50 mins

1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Brown the rabbit pieces in a little olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole then remove. Tip in a little more oil, add the onion and fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, 2 tbsp parsley and the oregano or marjoram. Cook until an aromatic paste, then return the rabbit to the casserole.

2. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, the olives, potatoes and wine. Bring to the boil and season well. Cover with a lid and bake for 1 hour, remove the lid and bake for a further 30 minutes to reduce the sauce a little. Stir in the remaining parsley.

Rabbit Stew

This is the simplest possible rabbit stew, with a thin but very tasty juice. A more luxurious way of finishing it is suggested below.

Serves 6

* 2 wild rabbits, skinned and jointed
* 250g salted pork belly or pancetta, cut into chunky cubes
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1 large onion, thickly sliced
* 3 large carrots, cut into 4cm lengths
* 4 celery sticks, cut into 4cm lengths
* 2 bay leaves
* A sprig of thyme (optional)
* 500ml dry cider
* 1 generous tsp honey
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method: How to make rabbit stew

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Gently fry the pork belly until it is lightly browned and the fat runs. Transfer the pieces of meat to a casserole but leave the frying pan on the heat.

2. Now brown the rabbit joints in the same pan, in batches, transferring them to the casserole as they are done. Finally, sweat the onion in the same pan but do not allow it to colour. Transfer to the casserole when soft and translucent. Add the carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme to the casserole.

3. Push everything around so it is fairly tightly packed, then pour over the cider. Add a little water if necessary to cover the meat. Add the honey and season with salt and pepper.

4. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, at a very low, tremulous simmer, for about 1¼ hours, until the rabbit is completely tender (older, tougher animals will take longer). You could cook it in a very low oven (120°c/Gas Mark ½), if you like – in which case, put a lid on the pot.
rabbit stew

4. Serve with plenty of the juice ladled over, with mashed potatoes or small macaroni or risoni (rice-shaped pasta).

For a posher, richer dish, cook as above until the rabbit is tender but not too flaky. Remove the rabbit pieces and keep, covered, in a low oven while you make the sauce. Strain the stock, first through a colander, then through muslin or a cotton cloth (the vegetables and pork don’t go in this version of the dish, so save them for soup, or to fry up for supper). In a clean pan, boil the strained stock hard until reduced to a scant 200ml. Then whisk in 200ml double cream and 2–3 tbsp grainy mustard and boil for a couple more minutes, until thick and glossy. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper and more mustard as you see fit. Reheat the rabbit pieces in the sauce, turning to coat them nicely. Serve on warmed plates, with any spare sauce generously spooned over, accompanied by creamy mashed potato.


I'v forgone the video tutorials here in favour of a small handful of typed recipes. Enjoy.

Squirrel Pasties

Kevin Viner's recipe for two pasties

140g squirrel meat cut into 1cm cubes;

100g sliced potato; 100g sliced swede; 50g diced onion; 30g smoked bacon;

15g chopped hazelnuts; 75g butter;

5g chopped parsley; a good pinch of salt and pepper


· Egg wash edges of pastry circles.

· Place the potato, swede, hazelnuts, parsley and seasoning on to each circle followed by the bacon, squirrel meat and, finally, the onion.

· Place butter in each pasty, then fold over the pastry and crimp the edges.

· Put the pasties on to a greaseproof baking tray, egg wash both pasties well, place in a pre-heated oven at 180C or gas mark 5.

· Bake for 45-50 minutes. The juices should start to boil and the pasties should be able to move on the tray with ease.

Sautéed squirrel, chanterelle mushrooms and autumn vegetables.


2 squirrels, skinned and gutted, chopped into quarters
1 tbsp flour
200ml/7fl oz red wine, preferably claret
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped pancetta
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ bay leaf, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
sea salt
pinch cayenne pepper

Thats the lot. I've purposely only included two recipes for squirrel as it is interchangeable with rabbit in most cases. You cand o either...with either.

Enjoy. Hope this post was informative to those not of a meat eating persuasion or those who dont like the idea of hunting.

Many thanks for your attention. And apologies for my boringly long post. Grammatical errors??? dont worry, i'll have a re read and sort those out when i get the chance. :lol: .

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 225278Post frozenthunderbolt
Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:00 pm

Awesome post!
Jeremy Daniel Meadows. (Jed).

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 225292Post Berti
Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:47 am

wow! you seem to know your stuff! sure some people will make good use of your writings!

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 225329Post Mortimer657
Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:48 pm

frozenthunderbolt wrote:Awesome post!
Many Thanks. Always a pleasure.

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 225330Post Mortimer657
Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:56 pm

Berti wrote:wow! you seem to know your stuff! sure some people will make good use of your writings!
Many Thanks Berti. Would be great knowing someone else has learnt something from me that will benefit them.

For me i just think its crazy that there is this free bounty going cheap and people pass it by everyday. Plus, for those of us who are concerned about where our meat is coming from, i.e eggs from battery chickens, intensively reared and farmed beef etc there is an added bonus...when hunting wild game we know that it has lived as nature intended, it has fed at its own pace on natural produce and has been raised to the highest Animal Welfare Standards imagineable. And as an added bonus we can be sure that the slaughter method was humane as, basically, its us pulling the trigger.

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 225371Post Nomada
Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:53 pm

I've been thinking about this kind of thing more lately, but had no idea how to get into hunting rabbits or pigeons.
England is not a Free People, till the Poor that have no Land, have a free allowance to dig and labour the Commons.

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 225380Post Mortimer657
Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:43 pm

Nomada wrote:I've been thinking about this kind of thing more lately, but had no idea how to get into hunting rabbits or pigeons.
Hi Nomada,

I'd really reccomend it. I never had an interest in this kind of thing myself at one point. My brother has been a keen small game hunter for quite some time and remarked how delicious it all was. It was after he made a chance comment about how low fat and lean the meat is that it really sparked my interest. I train in Muay Thai boxing now but at the time was still training hard as a boxer so the thought of cheap or free meat was very appealing. I tried it once and the bug sunk its teeth in. I havent looked back since.

Rabbit numbers are rising and year on year old bugs becomes more and more resistent to myxomatosis, possibly the most vile thing ever used on them. Last year i took just over 150 rabbits from various spots, a little over 180-190 WoodPigeon and Doves and around 60 grey squirrels. I barely had to buy meat from the supermarket/buthcers. I bought the odd bag of chicken breast as a nice addition. The savings were immense. So long as you manage the population you'll never kill off all of your quarry and you'll have a free source of high quality meat for years to come.

If your a little put off by the thought of forking out for a brand new gun outfit/complete kit then go for the secondhand option. Look here for some great bargains:(all sourced on


Secondhand Weihrauch HW-90 with scope:

Secondhand Weihrauch HW-95K with Scope, Silencer, Lamping Kit (for night shooting rabbits)..this is an absolute steal of a bargain at only £295:

UNDERLEVERS: (Generally more expensive than Break Barrel springers):

Secondhand Weihrauch HW-77K with scope (great rifles really reliable and accurate):

Secondhand Air Arms TX200 mkIII (full length version, i have the HC Hunter Carbine myself)..this is a fantastic rifle. i can vouch for them:

PCP (Pre Charged Pneumatic, you'll have to factor in charging costs or buying a divers bottle to top these up):

Secondhand BSA Hornet with Scope and Silencer (absolute bargain):

Secondhand Air Arms S200 with Scope, Lamp, silencer AND two multi shot magazines at £300 quid this is an absolute steal and people are raving about how good these rifles are for hunting:

Secondhand BSA Scorpion with scope, Silencer and Gunbag/Gunslip :

There we have a small list of good quality rifles. They do get more expensive as you go from break barrel to underlever and from under lever to PCP so you need to take this into account.

Also you need to take note that, Spring Powered and Gas Ram powered rifles are recoiling weapons whereas PCP's on the other hand use pre charged cylinders or buddy bottles and so are totally recoiless upon firing making accuracy easier to come by for newbies. I own the Air Arms S400 (Single Shot PCP) and Air Arms S510 SL Carbine Thumbhole stock (with 10 shot magazine) HOWEVER, i prefer my Air Arms TX200 HC mkIII. Its more reliable and with the correct user input it is as accurate as any PCP will ever be.

So, sorry for another long winded post...and trust me..go for wont regret it.

Happy Hunting.

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 230848Post jy79420
Thu May 05, 2011 8:29 pm

Hello there, I entered the search terms 'meat' and 'portsmouth' and your post came up. I was originally looking for raw rabbit meat for my dog but as I read further into your post,.....looks like u are eating all of the meat u got from your hunt.... :tongue:

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 230910Post MKG
Fri May 06, 2011 8:17 am

Mortimer did mention it in his post, but it got buried. So I'll say it again in a short message.


There's nothing wrong with hunting for your meat - but there is something terribly wrong with idiots running around the countryside who couldn't hit a barn if they were six feet from it. Practice, practice, practice - and keep practising until (I think Mortimer mentioned the appropriate range) you hit your practice target every time. And then, when you're out, don't take pot shots at anything beyond your practice range.

Every time I see an obviously dying rabbit (and I see far too many for my liking) which has been shot at by a myopic hunter wannabee, my blood boils. If you're going to kill them, make it clean. If you can't be absolutely confident of that, please go to T***o and buy a dead chicken.

The secret of life is to aim below the head (With thanks to MMM)

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 230986Post wildbee
Fri May 06, 2011 10:05 pm

What an excellent post, those recipes sound delicious.

I have permission to shoot on a farm where my friend keeps bees but I need a lot more practice stalking (or just being quiet ??) as everything always runs or flies off :/

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 231076Post Minnesota
Sat May 07, 2011 6:45 pm

+1 on that same thought.

I take several squirrels (in town, where firearm shoting is not allowed),
for the BBQ. I use a air rifle. Clean one shot kill or don't pull the trigger.
We owe that to the animals so they don't suffer unnecessarily.

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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 234027Post dannyllama
Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:54 am

A truly superb and excellent post. I would almost say worthy of a sticky ! The recipes sound amazing, and your advice is inspiring.

I live on the edge of arable crop fields, and know the farmer. I've got permission from him to hunt on the land, and have been watching the wood pigeons thinking "Your days are numbered" !

I've recently purchased a BSA Lightning XL Tac (.22), which has a scope. I've zeroed it in, but just need to find some time to bag some game. I've seen rabbits in the area, but they are a bit too close to a quiet road.


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Re: Free Meat

Post: # 235876Post hext
Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:40 pm

Excellent post!!

Permission / land are an excellent resource so look after them well when you get them, I got into shooting by starting "beating" for another local shoot ( after watching it on river cottage) might be a good way for someone else to get into also..

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