Today I embark on a very different 52 meats journey. I plan to get this weeks meat by means of shooting it, (and killing it if necessary, if my shot is as bad as I imagine it will be), butchering it, cooking the meat and lastly of course- eating it!
So, on a day that started in geeky Meat Mike Campbell heaven; I met some mates early to wander London’s Smithfield Meat Market– one of the largest of it’s kind in Europe, and has been a livestock mrket for over 800 years. Safe to say a must stop for Meat Mike Campbell. We purchased some wares and downed a massive feed of bacon, sausage, steak, lamb liver & kidney, black pudding and egg. (oh, and Guinness. What?). I then shot down I the country, shot a bird and ate it. However, I did then shoot to the very highly regarded Hawksmoor Steakhouse upon my return and smash a large and extremely delicious fillet of their amazing beef. Something I’ve been hanging to do all year!
What a day!
Strange as it may seem, although I doubt if you’re a regular reader, I’ve wanted to be responsible for getting an animal from life to my plate and then my belly. Today is the first chance for this during the 52 meats in 52 weeks challenge.
This is going to be very new for me, I’ve never shot anything I don’t think. Apart from the air around clay pigeons, the far edge of targets, the ground and as they say- the breeze.
Luckily for me I’m meeting my good friend Simon, with whom a catch up is the main reason for this trip, and tacking on some more primal activities a definite bonus. He lives in Canterbury, England. Which is in Great Briton in case you only know Countries according to the Olympic nations… He is a dad, chef, trainer, recreational hunter and a decent enough bloke that recreational still fits in front of hunter.
We plan to shoot some Wood Pigeons, however he has dropped Doves into conversation, and the call for me to eat squirrel has been a large one. This mostly from Londoners sick of the pesty blighters I think. Either way, let’s see how the day unfolds…
Apparently there’s another event on in London at present? Huh.. I soon realised that the number of people here for the- Olympics, I think it is- slightly outweighs the Meat MC entourage. Which is currently me plus the breakfast taken down this morning. After navigating team MMC around all the fans enroute to the Olympic village/stadium I boarded the train South, to Canterbury.
Once there I met up with Simon and his gorgeous two year old twins. We navigated back to his place in the country, checked out his under construction barn gym, and got to getting all things hunting sorted- guns, camo, bullets, hats, decoy pigeons, upper class English accents…
Once we’d taken the obligatory photo and the piss well and truly out of each other, we wandered out across a field of long clover and attempted to set up the decoys on the ground. Sadly the fact that they were a good foot below the surface of the clover should have indicated to us this might not be an incredibly fruitful mission…
We set up the hideout camo sheet (Pretty sure that’s the technical term…). Simon then ran me through the basics- “don’t shoot yourself or me”.
He also filled me in to why he gladly shoots pigeons- they easily destroy the crops in the area if given the chance (eat, not actually destroy).
So, it was time to take these suckers out!
Before I had time to even get one of the shotguns in my hands and get a feel for it, Simon had grabbed it, cocked it and shot a crow that had dive bomber through out line of sight.
Why shoot the crow?
Well we’re idiot men right, and I found it immensely impressive… Actually it was because the damage the crows do to the local and native birds nests and young. Damn crow.
Then for the next hour nothing really happened. It became apparent the pigeons couldn’t see the decoys to be tricked by them and that Simon’s aim isn’t necessarily awesome, with a couple of key misses of lonesome pigeon sitings.
Then I got the gun again… Weirdly one flew overhead not long after and Simon says- “Mikey, shoot that f**ker!”
I quickly pushed off the safety, took what I’ll call aim and BANG!! I got it! Holy shit! The floppy pigeon hit the ground!
I thought giving me responsibility for lunch was a bad idea. Not only did I hit it, but it would be the only pigeon to get taken out that day. There was literally none around!
That is until after close to another birdless hour went by Simon shot off the last 2 loaded rounds, in anger, into the air before the easiest kill practically floated overhead.
Ah well, we had one! And I felt like rambo, which is a result of a testoserone filled afternoon. I’ve mentioned testosterone before in a few posts, and I will get onto it again. However, very briefly, this is something all men need to have in decent amounts, and to have a primal afternoon shooting and feeling like Rambo, is a great way to boost the levels and lierally- be a man. So, a nice bonus… We took it home, Simon did some butchering and we got the two diced breasts marinating in some olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt & pepper.
After some time to rest and let the flavours infuse, the pieces along with some mushroom, bacon and red onion then made their way into the orderly cue that was a Wood Pigeon skewer and hit the BBQ to make a small snack.
The lonesome bird shot meant it wasn’t going to be a huge feast…
Was it tasty at least?
Ah.. hell yes! I tried some of the pigeon breast itself and it was super tasty and tender. Then the combo together was simply beautiful. I could have eaten this all afternoon! Sadly with Simon’s skills letting the team down dramatically… We had enough for a skewer each.
Some quick contemplation over the meat and my new habit of spotting every bird flying nearby, thanks to Simon, and it was already time to get me to the train back to London.
Pigeon shooting expedition done and dusted, and with that my England edition for 52 meats.
What’s good about pigeon meat?
Keep in mind these are healthy Wood Pigeons, not the ‘Rats with wings’ versions in most cities. These birds are very lean, they eat natural foods all day so they are a great source f nutrition. They are also high quality protein source, as well as being jammed full vital vitamins and minerals.
What a geeky meat filled day week 31 was! England done.
Thanks this week to Simon and Mel, his wife, for making this possible. And of course the singular pigeon for flying into the line of my shotgun pellets. Without that I may have had to write something very different here…
Next week: New York edition.