In 1981, when I met my husband-to-be, I liked him immediately. Like grew into love, and within 3 months we eloped and moved in together.
Now that’s not something I would recommend to people, like getting married at 16, but it has worked for us. However, there are things that you can’t learn about a person in 3 months.
It was well after we married that I learned my husband was a hunter. I nearly fainted. It was too late for an annulment, but trust me, I wasn’t happy.
During my last years of high school, I lived in Park City, Utah, which is a big deer and elk hunting area. I worked at a diner back then, so every year I had to put up with these drunk guys stopping in for meals, making feeble attempts at sobering up, while being crudely obnoxious to me.
These guys would fly into Utah for long weekends of gun- and man-bonding, shooting anything and everything that moved. I remember seeing dead horses and cows that were killed by these idiots during their drunken hunting fests. Sometimes if they kept the deer or elk, they would leave the entrails behind to rot. So believe me. I wasn’t keen on hunters.
My husband told me that first of all, he only killed birds, no four-legged animals. That made me feel better, although I’m not sure why. And he also explained to me that he was trained at an early age on the sport of hunting, and on gun handling.
But it was still really hard to believe that when he’d go out with his buddies for their annual pheasant and quail shoot over the years, that there wasn’t drinking involved. But this was serious business, he claimed, and at least during the time they were hunting, there was no drinking. At nighttime, it sounded like after walking 10 or 20 miles, they were just happy to sleep.
It’s a touchy subject, this hunting thing, which is why I’m not offering up this post as a debate forum. I’ve loosened up about hunting over the past years, and of course I’m especially understanding of people who hunt because they must. That makes complete sense to me.
Out of respect, my husband keeps his shotgun out of my sight, and he’s never asked me to join him. He also doesn’t go on hunts where all the birds are sent flying towards you, which really is no sport at all.
I will never touch a gun and I will never shoot an animal. That I know. I (sort of) understand that it’s a sport, and if there’s no waste, that’s a good thing. But here’s the thing. I fish. In fact, I love to fish. And I do eat the fish. And I also step on spiders. Happily. So what’s the difference?
So most every bird season since we’ve been married, depending on where we were living, my husband went hunting, and on good days he would bring home pheasants and quail. Quail are so small that I always poached them and fed the meat to our dogs. I really didn’t know what else to do with them. Pheasants, of course, are bigger. But the first time you bite down on a metal buck shot, you become a bit timid about eating more pheasant. So pheasant meat also became dog food, which the dogs loved.
Sadly, I never really viewed pheasant as “gourmet” game that I was lucky to have in my freezer. Occasionally I would make lentil pheasant soup, which was outstanding, but again, when you bite down on that buck shot, your ears ring and if you’re really unlucky, your tooth cracks. (Sorry, honey.)
This year, I decided it was time to actually work on preparing pheasant, including de-boning the pheasants. My first recipe pheasant with green chiles. Then I decided the sous vide process would be the best way to cook tender pheasant.
I understand your squeamishness about hunting. In my last house in the English countryside, the local gamekeeper used to leave a brace of pheasants on my back door after there had been a Shoot at the “big house”. I hated it – at first – but in the end learnt to cook them so that the act wasn’t wasted!
Exactly. It is terrible to waste food. Even if it’s food you didn’t ask for!
I grew up in a hunting family which meant we were taught safety and reverence for the animals that were shot and utilized for food. I’ve gotten away from wild meat, and no longer have a taste for it. We too had those people that would come from the city for a weekend and shoot up livestock. Our local hunters stayed out of the field on these days. I am anxious to see how you cooked up these birds. They can be so dry and stringy.
The pheasant turned out great. But you definitely have to be watchful!
I share exactly your point of view on hunting. I too ‘tolerate’ it now because I live in a big hunting area…
Tolerate is a good word!
I have no problem with people shooting game if they’re going to eat it. I eat other sorts of meat and as I too get free gifts of game birds I cook them with heartfelt thanks. Where I get angry is with the waste on commercial shoots in the UK where, because the organisers get paid peanuts by game dealers, they dig a big hole in the ground and bury the carcasses. I find that repugnant and immoral. Rant over.
Agreed. I didn’t know about those hunts in the UK. So archaic and inhumane.
They’re not all like that but it does happen. Shameful.
PS to January I would say if you’re in doubt about the age of the birds and you don’t want them dry and stringy, pot roasting or casseroling in the way to go. Linda.
Good story, especially the too late for annulment part ;-) I’m posting a recipe for quail legs soon — I sure am glad I didn’t have to carve them out!
No kidding! They’re so tiny! And actually, I just weighed a quail breast and it wasn’t even one ounce!
We – like most Australians – are gun-phobic, so hunting isn’t a big thing here. However my sister married a New Zealander and they are very big on the whole huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ scene which came as a big shock to her.
Hahahaha I bet it did! I’m just really glad my husband couldn’t kill Bambi.
Hello, delighted you visited me today so I could do the same and discover your wonderful blog. You have my complete attention with this pheasant post, a bit of a tease, but I will surely be back for it’s conclusion.
Having bitten into many a buckshot, I agree it’s not a nice experience. I have not had much satisfaction with preparing pheasant, always too dry. It often ends up as pheasant salad sandwiches, which are quite good considering it’s rescuing what otherwise has only so-so appeal. I never thought of dissecting it. I considered sous vide and tagine, but own none of the necessary equipment.
I grew up in a hunting family. Maybe that normalizes it or desensitizes one? Any who, lovely story about you and your man. See you soon then. Melissa
Hahahaha! Maybe a tease – hopefully the ending recipe will be worth it! I had never seen a gun in my life, except on tv. I’ve been very close to where you live, and it’s a beautiful area. You must come from hearty stock!
Mimi, I’m not sure if you are referring to my home in Maine or Ireland, but both places are beautiful and (mainly weather) can equally test even the most tenacious character at times. I wouldn’t change a thing though. Really psyched for your recipe! See you soon. Melissa
I was referring to your part of Ireland!
OMG, Mimi. Firstly, how romantic and that you guys are still together and make it work…awesome. I grew up on land where pheasants and quail and turkeys ran wild, but we’re not hunters. I have nothing against it if you use the game, after all, I eat almost everything and appreciate the sacrifice by making the most of the animal. Pheasant is really good. I love your description of missing the bullet. So cool. You really are a cook. Great post, great photos.
Thank you Amanda. I think honestly, both of us were to shy to go through with a wedding!
I wanted to add that I do get upset sometimes because we did grow up in a hunting town where to go outside we had to wear orange because our parents were afraid we’d get shot. People used guns and bows and arrows to hunt for deer. If they use it and cook it, then go ahead, but to do it just for sport makes me sad. And I still worry about getting shot sometimes when Im wandering around the woods, especially that first day in November when it becomes legal.
My parents owned horses in Utah, and they’d have to hide them insides until the season was over. Other people did, too.
My father used to hang pheasant in our basement until they were almost falling off the bone. It made for beautiful meat.
Hang them raw? Or salted?
Love the photo of your husband and his dog! I have no desire to do it, but I’ve got nothing against hunting. If I did, I couldn’t speak to my dear father, who lives for it. ;)
And, I wouldn’t be married.
Thanks so much!
I do believe in responsible hunting. The fact is, if you love a good pot roast, you need to be OK with the killing of animals. Of course I’m not for drunk men with guns! And I know what you mean about the irresponsible mess that hunters leave behind. My German shepherd once returned home dragging with a chopped-off deer hoof. My grandfather once went on a “hunting trip,” and forgot to take his rifle – and apparently didn’t notice.
I agree. Like I might have mentioned, I fish, so what’s the difference. I love your grandfather’s story!!!
I’d say you’re a good sport, and hunting birds with reason and responsibility aren’t the worsts faults you could find in a man (or woman). GREG
HA! I guess not!