Game as a meat is no different from any other product — if you want to increase its value and demand for it, it needs to be a quality product to start with. Small, damaged and poorly handled birds — the bane of game dealers’ lives — will never be A-grade no matter what you do with them. Which is why it is important to get things right from the start.
Anyone who has dressed or breasted birds will have noticed differences in the size of the bird and the amount of fat that they carry. Smaller strains of pheasant such as the Kansas and the Manchurian can still be plump and carry enough fat to add flavour. However, bigger strains like the French common and the ubiquitous Bazanty may be on the thin side without an ounce of fat.
To a degree, the condition of the birds will depend upon the year and how they have done since release. If they have struggled and had problems in the release pen; if they were taken off the pellets too soon; or they have been fed poor-quality wheat and pushed about too much on shoot days, they aren’t going to be as well muscled, fit and heavy as they could be. Neither will they carry any body fat.
Heavy birds will still fly, so we shouldn’t get too hung up about birds getting too fat. In my experience that rarely happens, and it is the heavier birds that have the strength to power across the wider valleys and take on those difficult cross-winds.
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November 27, 2019