As the main season for woodpigeon shooting approaches, one problem arises: how to make room in the freezer? I had a few successful days last year, and many pigeon breasts remain to be eaten. An excellent use for these birds is a variation on that old favourite, Spaghetti Bolognese. So why not, instead of Spag Bol, make Pig Bol?

A few tips:

  • After many experiments, I discovered that the mincer performed best when the pigeon breasts were processed while still half frozen, as this reduced the tendency for tendons and sinews to wrap around the auger of the mincer, clogging it.
  • It is also important to take the breasts off the bone when the pigeon is fresh. Although this is more fuss initially, you will fit more in the freezer, and frozen pigeon shields are a pig to deal with.
  • As pigeon is a very lean meat, it is necessary to make sure that there is enough fat or oil so that it doesn’t dry out and burn when cooking.
  • If you want to try something slightly more exotic, try feral pigeons. Make sure these are country ferals, as these are fed on stolen grain, not take-away, and taste pretty good. Rook breasts also work, although they benefit from being soaked in milk overnight. It is worth noting that both these birds have much smaller breasts, so twice the number will be needed if you really want to make a pig of yourself!
  • I live in Scotland, where General Licences still apply to all pest species. If you’re unlucky enough to live in England, check what the current rules are. You can read more about General Licences here.


4 woodpigeon breasts
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
200g tomato purée
250g chestnut mushrooms
1 glass red wine
Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp mixed herbs
Grated cheddar or parmesan
Salt and Pepper


Cube the meat and mince it. Chop the onion and other vegetables. Slice the mushrooms.

Fry the onion until soft, add minced pigeon and fry until just browned. Use plenty of oil! Add the rest of the vegetables and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the wine, tomato purée, mixed herbs, and a few glugs of Worcestershire sauce. At this point the consistency may need adjusting with a mug of water.

Simmer for 30 minutes. After this, it is best to leave it to stand for an hour, or even till the next day. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce if needed.

Serve with spaghetti and grated cheese on top.

Michael Little

I live in Dumfries and Galloway and together with my father and brother I help to control pests on local farms, which is really important to me as it helps both the wildlife and the farmers. I’m also a beater on a neighbouring commercial shoot, which I found was a great way to get into shooting. I have always shot with side by sides and dreamt about owning a Damascus-barrelled hammer gun – which I now have!

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