Picking up the apron

Please note that you cannot purchase or hire a shotgun if you’re under 18 years of age. You cannot have with you an assembled, functioning shotgun either, unless you’re under supervision of a person who is 21 or more (this applies to shotguns secured in gun slips too). Read more about the law and rules in the Shotgun Safety Code of Practice.

I’ve never really had a keen interest in cooking and never ventured past scrambled eggs on toast. But I am a keen shooter, so I thought now is the time to pick up my apron and give cooking rabbits a go.

Rabbits are readily available, even on my own land, so they seemed like a good first choice. Because of the lockdown, I’m trying to keep myself busy and hopefully learn a few new skills. Cooking seemed like a good idea, so I decided to prepare a tasty game pie…

I’ve been brought up with the idea of eating what you shoot, no matter whether it’s a pheasant or a rabbit. My grandma taught me how to skin and gut animals properly. I think it’s such an important skill and every person with an interest in shooting should know how to do it. Doing so is very important and gives you a chance to experience the delicious taste of game.

Shooting rabbits for food

Whenever I have the opportunity to shoot, I always skin and gut the animal and my mum then takes over at that point. I thought it would be a shame if I didn’t know how to complete the whole field to fork process.

So, me and my dad went out to the back field where we have a problem with rabbits. Not only do they eat the grass meant for the sheep and horses, but the holes they dig are dangerous for our livestock too. Horses and sheep can potentially really hurt themselves if their legs fall into a rabbit burrow.

Last year my dad, uncle and I spent many hours putting fencing up for the sheep in that field. The rabbit holes could affect the posts’ stability. I would really hate it if all this hard work was for nothing. Shooting the rabbits for food is the logical thing to do  it brings down the population, limits the risk to my sheep and horses, and provides us with a tasty meat to use.

I took with my Browning shotgun. There’s a nice bit of cover in the corner of the field where the hedge lies so I sat there waiting for rabbits for a while. Eventually, my patience paid off and one by one they came out. I managed to get two that morning and was pretty pleased. That’s all I needed for the pie I planned on making in the afternoon.

Making the rabbit pie

I found a game pie recipe on BASC’s website. We didn’t have venison in the fridge sadly and my mum wasn’t keen on the idea of going off in search for it at the shops. So, I’ve decided to make a few adjustments to create a rabbit recipe and added some carrots in as well. It seemed like an obvious pairing for rabbit!

I’ve really enjoyed preparing everything for the pie. My mum kept an eye on me to make sure I wouldn’t end up poisoning the whole family – thanks for the trust mum! I was really pleased we had a ready-to-go pastry at home too. Mum tried to explain how to make it from scratch, but it sounded far too complicated for this newbie chef.

From field to plate

I have to say, there’s no better feeling than preparing a meal all the way from field to plate. Especially when you were part of every step.

There was no wastage of the rabbits either as the cat got anything I couldn’t use. And, the cat was pretty pleased about the extra meal. It was great to find out I still had my eye in with the shooting after a long break from using my shotgun too.

It’s a result

I’m pleased to say I not only make decent scrambled eggs anymore. I can now add a tasty rabbit pie from our own field to my cooking resume. As I’ve already experienced shooting rabbits for food and cooking them, I now look forward to preparing other game when I have a chance too. 

I definitely plan on picking up the apron more often and look forward to trying new recipes to cook what I shoot. I encourage all shooters to give cooking a go, it’s really rewarding!