Field Dressing: Wood Pigeon
If you eat meat and you hunt then Wood Pigeon may well be something you have eaten before. Its one of my favorites and as someone who doesn’t buy meat a Wood Pigeon is one of the most common sights in my fridge. Many associate pigeons with disease due to the huge populations of Rock Dove that live in and around buildings within cities. Its important to understand that the Rock Dove is not by nature a diseased bird, its natural habitat would normally be cliff faces along coastlines or rocky environments overlooking large expanses of greenery. It just so happens that buildings take place of cliffs and rocks and offer an ideal breeding ground also housing other members of the Columbidae family. Commonly they are referred to as feral pigeons and in such great numbers disease and ill health can be common place giving the pigeon its shabby reputation.
Wood Pigeons on the other hand live in the countryside feeding on vegetation and often crops. They are very healthy birds with extremely powerful breast muscles allowing them to reach speeds of up to 50mph and fly well over 500 miles a day. They can maneuver in the air changing direction with just the dip of a wing and are incredibly challenging to shoot when in flight. I have always had a great deal of respect for the Wood Pigeon, its a well maintained bird and a very healthy one to eat at that.
If you do manage to get hold of one either by shooting it yourself or picking up some road kill you may want to know how to prepare it. Below you will find a series of videos, this first showing scenes of hunting and the second will teach you two ways of pranging this bird depending on what you wish to do. My final note would be that Wood Pigeon tastes very much like stake and is often referred to as flying steak for this very reason. My recommendations would be to pan fry it with some seasoning, perhaps butter and garlic if you eat butter. Treat it like a stake and do not over cook it as it should be pink in the middle.