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Hunting for Free Food

The Murder Scene

The Murder Scene

The stones of the path crunched beneath my feet, the sun’s rays were sliced by the forest, and coconut gorse and syrupy sweet foxglove scents filled the air. Above me, the sky was cloudless. I skipped along like a pixie in a Disney movie.

A cute little rabbit crossed my path and darted into a sloping field. Then – bang! A big loud shot filled the air, and the rabbit’s head exploded.

I couldn’t hide my shock and disgust from the two hunters who looked over me. Shaken and – completely without reason – convinced that they were going to shoot me, I walked away. Any minute now, I thought, a bullet in the back.

Up where I live, near Roundwood and Laragh in Co. Wicklow, the sound of the gun is common enough, whether it’s for deer, rabbits, or just clay pigeons. But I never got used to it; it’s always made me distinctly uncomfortable.

Shoot the lil bunny rabbit?

Shoot the lil bunny rabbit?

I mention this here because fish, fauna, or fowl, hunting or gathering your own food is not just cheap. It’s free (well, maybe factor in the cost of the bullet). Despite my queasiness, there’s nothing wrong with hunting; if you’re a meat-eater who objects to killing wild deer and rabbits for food, I think you’re being a chimp. Anyway, rabbits quickly lose their cuteness when you spend half an hour trying to whoosh the bewildered idiots off the road, and there’s too many of em. Also, they taste incredible. Yum. Here’s a recipe from The Frugal Cook blog for Lapin a la moutarde (Rabbit in Mustard to you and I).

But still, the gun just doesn’t fit well with my ignorant city mindset. I knocked one of the rabbits down a few weeks and didn’t have the guts to strip its carcass for the meat, so it was lost to the rats and ravens.

I want to know if any of our lovely readers have gone hunting for their own meat, or what you think of it. Do you hunt, is it a family tradition, can you save any money doing it, and is there any recipes you could share here?


  1. my main worry is the blood lust: its possible to get over the naivity of personalising the suffering of one animal, and to then start thinking about the broader ecology, the species managment, the source of food in general etc…

    But the enjoyment in shooting..hummm…dodgy.

    Plus free? No way: waay more than a bullet. Unless you robbed the gun, you’d be paying for that too. As well as the gun licience. Check.

    You may have walked barefoot up into the mountains, but you probably didn’t.
    So that’s expensive ankle support hiking boots. Check. Oh, and a car. Check.

    these days, you may as well add in the GPS and all the other expensive gear too. Check.

    Free compared to the reduced to clear section of the supermarket you are in anyway? No.

    then of course there is the general proliferaton of guns and gun culture. that’s a concern too.

    Hunting for mushrooms, or along the seashore doesn’t add to the most important of these concerns thou: I’m not half as concerned about those – in fact they are great fun, and the seashore one in particular could easily involve the kids in a variety of constructive ways.

    I wouldn’t be as keen on bringing the kids shooting.

  2. I don’t see anything wrong with catching your own food. I’d much rather eat a deer that ran wild and free than a poor pig that had a miserable life in a cramped pen where it couldn’t even turn around. Or a rabbit killed running across a field than a chicken or cow brought to a slaughtering factory.
    Hunters are hunting for food and because the deer and rabbit populations do need to be controlled, not out of some crazy blood lust. Yes, we might be squeamish about it, but tough.
    I don’t see that the boots, car, GPS, etc should be factored in. And the gun is a one-time investment.

  3. I wouldn’t go hunting for meat (I hate the thought of not only using a gun, but also having to skin and take out the guts of the animals, really too messy for me, I’d rather pay for a ready-to-eat beast in the supermarket), but I went fishing a few years ago with my ex and we caught lovely “brownies” (I think they’re a kind of trout); if you know the right places also you can get lots of mussels, winkles and clams, that you can pick on rocks and in the sand (no boating costs, all you need is a bucket and some wellies). At the end of the summer you can pick blackberries on the side of country roads (I made yummy blackberry pies last year) and depending on where you live, you can also get some chestnuts and hazelnuts in the autumn (I’m not sure where to get them in the West of Ireland, but I remember my childhood in Brittany where I used to get on my bike and pick loads).

  4. Can you really just wander around with a gun shooting rabbits and deer? Aren’t there issues around trespassing?

  5. “bewildered idiots”, thats definitely the attitude of somebody who enjoys a gun

  6. as usual we have the uninformed speaking out about issues they know nothing about, and in this i mean the responses not the original post. hunting has been a human way of life for well ever, it dosent mean you have a blood lust or that you will shoot anything that moves. for most hunters the enjoyment is being in the outdoors and the hunting not the killing. Most hunters believe in if you kill something you use it and respect the creature. in many ways farming is far more ruthless to animals. lastly if you want to eat meat of fish of any kind an animal must die. Any other interpretation is just wrong. hunting is by no means free but once your initial out lays then hunting a rabbit or 2 is just the cost of a cartridge about 25c. as for the forager hunting mushrooms or sea food well they incur the cost of their boots and clothing too. and fish and shellfish etc are alive too or dont thay count for some reason.