by Tim Bonner

Whether you want to do your bit to fight climate change after COP26, are looking for a low-fat high protein food source, or simply want to eat something delicious, game is the answer. If you need another excuse, this week happens to be Great British Game Week. In fact, if you are looking for an ethical food source it would be very difficult to imagine anything better than wild venison. Not only is venison a tasty, lean meat which requires zero inputs to produce, but by consuming it we are also contributing towards the management of the UK deer herd which in many places has reached a density where it is having a serious impact on bio-diversity. There are apparently more deer in the countryside than there has been for 1000 years, so munching on a muntjac burger is not just an enjoyable experience but also a public service. When comparing the carbon footprint and wider environmental impact of locally sourced venison to an avocado grown in Mexico and shipped to your local supermarket, there is only one winner in the environmental and ethical stakes.

Of course, venison isn’t the only option. There is little in the culinary world that beats a wild duck harvested sustainably from the vast British wintering population. Mallard is a fantastic meat and the origin of farmyard species, but my favourite is probably the teal. A wonderful little duck which comes in a perfect portion and tastes delicious.

And then we have pheasant and partridge. Many of these will have been reared, released and fed growing rations then wheat, but both their diet and life cycle are infinitely preferable to intensively reared poultry. Truly wild and free range, they represent a high welfare, high taste food sourced from the game shooting sector which provides so many social, economic, and environmental benefits. And whilst many of us have eaten a lot of game which has been shot with lead over the years, it is undoubtedly better for us if birds are shot with the effective alternatives which are now available. More importantly removing lead from game will remove a barrier that may have stopped some people from consuming it. Having used steel to shoot ducks for many years, I am now using the new generation of steel cartridges with bio-degradable wads for all my game shooting and am finding them very effective. In a non-lead future, we will be able to open up the game market to an even wider audience and it is an absolute truth that promoting the consumption of game meat is the simplest and most effective way of promoting game shooting.

So, this Game Week weekend eat some game yourself, share your bounty and introduce friends and neighbours to the joys of game. Shooting, deer management and the countryside will all benefit, as will the lucky recipients of your generosity. There are no losers in Great British Game Week! 

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