One of the best things about living in the country is that it’s much easier to go out and forage for your own food than it is living in the city. As well as nuts, fresh greens and mushrooms, you can also try your hand at shooting and fishing. If you’ve never done either before, don’t worry. There may be a country club or self-sufficiency organisation that offers training and organised shooting and fishing tours, where you will learn how to catch and kill and also how to gut and prepare your food.
You may be daunted by the prospect of shooting animals to eat them, and put off by the prospect of owning your own gun. However, owning a gun is considered to be quite normal in the country, and it is done purely for shooting animals. Killing animals might seem strange at first, but their lives in the wild will have been much happier than animals and fish, which have been reared in intensive farms.
The range of animals and birds you can shoot in the wild is greater than you’d think. The range includes rabbits, deer, pheasant, woodpigeon, guinea fowl, boar, and even squirrels. They are all killed in slightly different ways, for example rabbits are often killed using ferrets, which run down the rabbits’ burrows and force them above ground. Shooting birds is quite difficult, as the target is always moving, whereas shooting a deer requires patience, but your target will always be standing still (the shot is likely to be cleaner when the deer is standing still which will enable you to get a more precise shot and cause the animal far less pain).
If you are shooting animals and birds on private land, it’s important to bear in mind a few rules. Always get permission from the landowner before you embark on your shoot. Follow the country code; close gates behind you, take your litter with you and try not to tread on, or disturb wild flowers, which are important to the local ecology. Don’t kill young animals, and always try to get the cleanest shot possible, to avoid causing any unnecessary pain to the animal.
There are a lot of fishes to be fished from ponds, streams, rivers and coastlines around the UK. Depending on where you live and where you fish, you can catch fish including trout, pike, salmon, mackerel and sea bass. You can also catch lobster and crabs, using homemade lobster cages. You can even catch your own squid.
To start fishing the only equipment you will need is a rod, and some bait to lure the fish in with. It is worth going with an expert to begin with, who will teach you how to fish efficiently, plus how to kill the fish in the most humane manner possible. Usually, once you have reeled your fish in, you should hit it on the head to kill it, so it doesn’t endure the slow and painful death of suffocation.
When fishing, you should observe a few simple rules to ensure fish stocks are maintained. Always throw back young fish, so they can grow and reproduce to replenish the fish stock, and always ask the landowners permission if you are fishing on private land. If you are fishing on open sea, take a buddy with you, and adequate life-saving equipment, should you run into difficulty.
Catching your own animals and fish to eat is rewarding and fun. However always seek permission before you start, and take an expert with you.