Friday, January 18, 2008

Snow goose: prize and punishment

Epilogue to Wednesday's Hunt

Somewhere in my second hour of plucking my snow goose on Thursday, I saw through my garage window that the UPS man had pulled up. My new shotshell pouch from Cabela's!

Eager for a break, I hit the button and opened the garage door to greet him, positively covered in goose down.

He surveyed the scene in my garage.

"My least favorite part!" he said.

"I know," I said. "And this is a snow goose, so it's taking forever."

"That's why I just breast 'em out," he said, handing me my package.

Snow geese are the worst. It seemed like most feathers had to come out one at a time. And there were a lot of them.

But Boyfriend (a serious cook) and I have never breasted out a bird. We try hard to use every part of it, right down to the feet, which get a good scrubbing and go into the stockpot to make broths even more heavenly.

Even faced with the king of difficult birds, I couldn't imagine just taking the breasts. If I've got the cajones to kill a bird, I should have the decency to spend some time on it, shouldn't I? I mean, it died to be my dinner, so what's a couple hours of my life?

Between plucking and gutting, I spent literally two and a half hours on this bird. The reward was admiring the beauty of its feathers and down for almost that entire time. Being a freelance photographer, I had to snap a few photos to catch the strange beauty of the scene.

You can click on each photo if you want to see it in more detail. Warning: The last one is a bit graphic, so please don't scroll down if you don't want to be grossed out. But it's so vivid - and so much a part of the process of waterfowl hunting - that I had to include it here. Please let me know what you think!

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I think 'pillow'

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a lot of down and feathers.

Can't wait to hear what sort of dish you guys make out of the goose.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Boyfriend's gonna make sausage.

Unfortunately, that goose's skin tore really easily during plucking, so the otherwise unspoiled breasts came out with a lot of ripped skin - not good for presentation. So frustrating!

The Hunter's Wife said...

I really tried to not scroll down but had to so I could reach your comments.

Pictures were great. The first one look like you actually step on the poor thing.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Mwa ha haaaaaa! That was just my nefarious plot to keep the forces of mandatory veganism from commenting!

Phillip said...

Cool pictures, Holly. Very artistic.

I've gotta admit to having taken only the breasts many times, but I do agree with your principles. I get a definite pang of remorse (and yeah, shame) when I breast out a bird, either because it's just so small or I'm just "too tired"... but I seem to do it anyway. So wasteful.

Is there any redemption for me?

There is none, I fear.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Well, Phillip, I should try not to sound so smug about it. It's my choice that I tend to do things the hard way (cue the Tred Barta soundtrack!). And in this case, it's the only way I've ever done it. I don't even know how to breast out a bird.

Besides, Boyfriend does most of the cooking, and he does amazing things with all those parts, so it's in my best interest to keep 'em coming.

HELLEK said...

Where's the gory picture? If you mean the blood stain/shot hole on the breast, then it's not what I expected, especially since I saw the whole, entire process before.

It's amazing how soft the down looks!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Hellen, you are marvelously durable!

The down was really fantastic on this goose. I've only gotten one other snow goose, and its down was way more wispy for some reason. Either way, the brilliant whiteness of it is spectacular.

nigel said...

Nice photos. The final photo with the splash of blood only serves to reinforce the reality that meat comes from dead animals, not just from sealed packets on a supermarket shelf.

Vegans - aren't they the people who don't eat anything that casts a shadow?

(Sorry, feeling mischevious 8-))). Nigel.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks! And that reality is why I decided to post it. I think sugar-coating death has really led to a lot of public confusion about how meat arrives on the table, which has led to undeserved animosity toward hunting.

The other reason was I really, really liked the purity of the red blood on the purity of the white down. Nothing vague or uncertain about it!