Monday, February 22, 2010

One small step…

So I finally got my new air rifle properly broken in and I've learned how to shoot it well (weirdly, the way you shoot a spring-piston air-rifle is almost the exact opposite way you shoot a regular rifle).

This means that certain hunting and pest control opportunities that up until recently fell into the 'too dangerous' category (dangerous as is dangerous to people and property in the surrounding area) are suddenly on the table again. A .22LR rifle fired upwards can travel for well over a mile and still have enough energy to seriously hurt someone when it comes back down. An 8 grain .177 airgun pellet fired upwards could come down on a sleeping new born baby's soft spot and not even wake it.

Of course, this means the cold war that's been going on between me and the squirrels that infest the woods directly behind my house is about to get a whole lot hotter. I personally plan on making them pay back every cent of the nine hundred dollar's worth of damage they did to my bedroom roof.

But this begs a different question:

Killing them is one thing, but should I eat one?

You see, when I first moved to the Carolinas I was surprised to find out that squirrel meat is something of a delicacy here in the south. Back before supermarket freezers existed, squirrels represented a very available and abundant source of meat. When all you could eat was what you could grow, kill or barter for yourself, the idea of spending a couple of hours the woods with a rifle and handful of .22 shorts and getting enough meat to feed your family for a whole week was obviously very attractive.

Now this is a real dilemma for me, and not for the reasons you're probably thinking of.

Firstly, I don't feel even slightly guilty about popping a squirrel's head. Six years ago, I thought of squirrels as the cute little critters that run around in the park. They all had cutesy names like 'Mr. Nutkin' and probably went on all kinds of amazing adventures with wise cracking hamsters and other assorted Disney cliches.

Today? I fully understand why most southerners call them 'tree rats'. They're absolutely everywhere and generally destroy any area they go into. They're only cute when they're not chewing through your roof shingles and having royal rumble style wrestling matches in your attic at 4am in the morning.

Secondly, I'm not squeamish about skinning, cleaning and preparing them either. I personally think that cleaning and eating something you've killed yourself should be a compulsory experience for everyone at some point in their lives. As I've talked about before, people have this strange mental disconnect where they just don't associate 'meat' with 'animal'. Most people don't stop to consider that their frozen package of 'hamburger' once walked around and said 'moo'

(I also think visiting a battery farm and slaughterhouse should be compulsory as well…it amazes me that people think raising an animal in a tiny concrete cell, force feeding it crappy food laced with growth hormones… before jamming it in a truck with a hundred other animals to take it to get a bolt shot through its head is somehow more humane than giving a wild animal that's lived a perfectly natural life a quick, clean death with a bullet it never saw coming.)

Last but not least, I love trying new things. I'm not going to turn my nose up at squirrel because it's not white-meat chicken.

So what exactly is my problem? Why do I consider it a dilemma as to whether to actually try some squirrel?

Well, eating a squirrel isn't something you can do casually. To the vast majority of my family and friends back in England, eating squirrel would become one of my major defining attributes. It's the kind of thing that would become a story that would always be told whenever my name comes up. Oh, and trying squirrel is one thing…but shooting, skinning, cleaning and cooking it myself takes things up a notch.

Basically, it earns me a redneck, white-trash black-belt. I might as well start wearing a dirty baseball cap with a fish-hook pin, get seriously into a NASCAR, consider John Cena to be a talented actor and actually laugh when Larry the Cable Guy says 'Git 'er Done'.

I'm not sure I can do that. I know for a fact that I'll never be able to idolize someone for their ability to drive in a circle really fast.

Hell, I don't even know what 'yee haw' means.


Evan 08 said...

I've done it.

Susan said...

My Kentucky neighbor fixed us a "batch" of squirrel, once. He could do amazing things with this animal and it was once of the best meals I've ever eaten.