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Monday, January 14, 2013

For your consideration: Are you a hunter who breasts out birds?

The other day I read an article titled "On Breasting Out Birds" on Hank Shaw's blog. It made me realize there is a situation in which I, as someone who no longer eats poultry, would consider preparing game bird meat. In it he describes how some hunters only take the breast of a duck, goose, or pheasant and leave (on the ground) or throw away (in a trash bin) the rest of the bird including the legs, wings, and organ meats.

Let me be up front in saying I have no issue with the concept of hunting in general but I do have an issue with wasting the meat of any animal that has been killed in the wild or in a commercial slaughter house.

Years ago when I did eat meat I always felt the most appreciation I could give was to be aware of and respect that a living, breathing creature died to put food on our collective plates and to not throw away any unused portions. When I was young I was raised in the Pacific Northwest and had, perhaps, a somewhat romanticized impression of the way the Native Americans hunted with reverence, took only what they needed, then used as much of each animal as they possibly could. I guess in a way this awareness made me a conscious eater long before the term became chic.

As a hunter himself, Hank's wish for 2013 is to convert more hunters into diners who realize that game bird legs and wings are edible and shouldn't be wasted. In an effort to support his goal I'm asking you to share this post with any duck, goose, or pheasant hunters you know who currently take only the breasts of the birds they hunt. If they wonder how to cook these parts and some other unused bits they can try out some of Hank's recipes like Dark Duck Broth or. . .

So if you're a local friend of mine who hunts fowl but only uses the breast, please bring home your legs and wings. I'll pick them up, learn how to pluck them, and at the very least make Kitai some nice duck jerky treats, pheasant pot pies, or mini goose meatloaves. I promise, no judgement on my part. I would just be appreciative to know that the meat is not being wasted.

And if you're a hunter, angler, forager, or home chef you might want to check out Hank's blog www.Honest-Foods.net. He has endless ideas and advice on all of the above subjects.

On breasting out birds Hank says:

"I understand why many hunters breast out their birds. If I were raised in a hunting community and everyone around me breasted and skinned our birds, chances I’d do the same thing. inertia and tradition are powerful forces. How a person perceives food makes a huge difference, too. If you view food merely as fuel, eating the animals you shoot becomes more of an obligation than a joy. You do it because you are supposed to, not because you prefer pheasant to chicken, or venison to beef.

But even though I understand why hunters breast out their birds, it does not mean I have to like it. For me, breasting out a bird shows disrespect for the animals we say we love. Consider this: As hunters, one of our strongest arguments when we’re trying to convince non- or anti-hunters that we are not in fact callous killers is that we eat what we bring home. Breasting out birds and tossing the legs, wings and giblets in the trash damages – some would say destroys – that argument." CLICK HERE to read the rest of Hank's post.

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