The ultimate ancestral health experience has got to be hunting your own meat; for some, however, this is pushing the boundaries a wee bit too much!
Luckily there is another way – get someone else to do it.
So we have made it super easy for you and work with a team in Cumbria who supply all of our wild game meats from a range of Estates throughout the Region.
I think wild game is some of the most nutritious and delicious meat you can eat and it has some pretty impressive credentials too:
Wild game meat is sustainable. Unlike many farmed types of meat that require human managed resources including; cereals, medicines, bedding, care and transportation, the wild game lives in our natural spaces living from an existing ecosystem that requires no input.
In the absence of natural predators our ruminant populations have to be managed to avoid overgrazing, buying wild game can play an important role in helping Estates manage the land better.
Wild game meat is usually high welfare. Would you prefer an animal is reared in a managed in confinement or one who has lived wild in its natural environment expressing natural behaviours? When it comes to the point of death, wild game is shot or killed in its wild habitat – no transportation; no pens; no crushes – a quick and skilled shot will dispatch the animal before it has had time to suffer or comprehend the process.
Wild game meat is healthy. Wild game meat is exactly the same meat as our ancestors were eating before we domesticated animals. It comes with all the benefits of living in a wild, healthy and diverse ecosystem; a superb omega 3 to omega 6 ratios of essential fatty acids, higher levels of fat soluble vitamins that found in grain fed meats, no antibiotic residues and far less chance of exposure to pesticides and agricultural toxins.
I am fanatical about animal welfare and wanted to see for myself how humane this deer stalking malarkey is. Stephen and I had the privilege of accompanying a stalker on a large Scottish Highland estate to see what’s involved in shooting a red stag for our freezer.
I can’t emphasise enough the skill and understanding of the landscape a stalker must have. They ‘live and breathe’ the estate, are familiar with every nook and cranny of the area, and will know the movements and individual animals in the herds that occupy their land. Do not confuse them with jodhpur-clad rosy-cheeked folk who love to chase animals around!
The stalker should always be out of sight and downwind so that the deer won’t associate people with danger – this would make their job impossible. The stalkers job is to maintain a healthy herd of animals; this happens through careful culling to avoid any animal suffering from starvation or injury. The real skill is to take animals nearing the end of their life or not integral to the future of the herd but still in good enough condition to provide great venison. A stalker may also increase the income potential further by taking a client stalking and under supervision allowing them to take the kill. Clients are required to prove they are ‘up to the job’ by shooting practice targets before going into the hills.
In our experience, we crawled on our bellies for hours waiting for the right moment. We then got a closer look at a herd of stags we had been stalking in the distance. Through the binoculars, we could see a grazing stag who was apparently a ‘10 pointer’; an older stag who was healthy but ageing and may not survive another harsh winter. Our stalker took aim with his high powered rifle then in an instant the stag dropped to the floor. There was no kicking or movement. The rest of the herd took flight – they had no idea what had happened, but the noise scared them into the distance.
On closer inspection, our stag was killed instantly with a lethal shot to the neck. I couldn’t believe how much more humane this was than transporting an animal in a trailer into an unfamiliar abattoir to be slaughtered. No stress, no fear – no knowledge of the event at all!
The deer is bled and gutted on the moorland – it just disappears into the ground, as essential minerals and food for wildlife.
If you want to see this incredible process, this wonderful video shows it all.
As for cooking the wild game meat, there’s a wealth of fantastic recipes and ideas for cooking every wild furry and feathery beast you can imagine online. It’s actually no more difficult than cooking with beef or lamb – it’s just a bit unfamiliar at first. Take a look at ‘game-to-eat’ for starters.
For me, cooking and eating wild game meats through the Autumn and Winter is the essence of hunkering down for the cosy seasons. It’s rich and delicious and once you have tried it there will be no turning back.