Friday, 4 December 2009
Who Killed Donald Duck?
My dad invited me shooting with him last weekend along with my brother and an old family friend. It was over a farm in Pulham which is right in the middle of rural Dorset. We didn't see much all morning, a few pheasants had escaped us and I saw a field mouse but that was about it. I could have bagged old mousey but there wouldn't have been enough for a sandwich. So I let him live. We stopped back at the Land Rover for a cup of coffee and something to eat before doing one last circuit of the bottom two fields. It had been raining severely during the previous week and on the uneven land large puddles of water had collected that were the size of ponds. We turned the last corner and leaving one of the aforementioned pond-puddles were two ducks. We got them both and I was quite impressed with myself killing it clean and not having to finish it off. However Mr. Ducky had quite a bit of momentum going and as he fell, still moving forwards, he landed on the far side of an unpassable river. The other side of the river is someone else's land and hearing the shots the Game Keeper quickly turned up and stood there smiling. He was pleasant enough but his presence was more of a warning so as not to attempt to cross the the deep old river, even if I could. He looked down at my duck and walked off. Bet he went back and fetched it. Feeling guilty of taking the duck down but not making use of it, I moped back to find the others. They were staring up at the top of a ten foot high blackthorn bush with a dead duck neatly nested on top. I was not having that one escape us too, so with my brother leaning, back against the sharp wall of thorns, I climbed up his knee, onto his folded arms and stood on his shoulders outstretching myself across the top of the spiky Blackthorn bush. The tips of my fingers were still about twelve inches from the bird and in a last minute death or glory effort, I jumped from Anthony’s shoulders springing myself up and out onto the plateau of the top of the hedge. My hands firmly around the bird I could only roll and slide down the side of the bush until my feet were guided to the floor by my brother. I felt a little better now that we weren't about to waste two ducks.
We got home and I set about plucking and drawing the bird. I took the breasts out skin-on and singed the remaining fine feathers on the hob before marinating the breasts in soy sauce, orange juice, sugar and chinese five spice over night. The following evening I explained to the wife that we were going to have stir fry with the duck. "That's fine but just don't remind me you shot it," was the response I got as she swiftly left the kitchen. I sliced the breasts into finger sized pieces and threw them in the wok with shallots, peppers, leek, chilli and a tiny bit of fresh ginger. A bit more five spice, a teaspoon of oyster sauce and It was cooked as quickly as it was shot, though we'll forget the long winded retrieving of old Donald. Turns out it was a little too strong for the wife and I admit it was quite rich and very gamey, but seeing I was getting her share of the meat, I didn't try to persuade her to try some more and quickly stole the chunks of duck from her bowl. I like to tell myself that the neighboring game keeper went back and picked up the other duck that I shot and ate it. Perhaps in a sandwich with plum sauce, spring onion and cucumber. I'm sure of it.