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Waste and Dishonour


I had the pleasure of receiving a communication from a forum member today.
He wished to know how he may reduce the waste and fully utilise the parts of the animals he hunted. It was/is a firm belief featuring heavily in the mythology of hunting tribes that to do so is to honour and respect your prey, to neglect to, a sin and a crime.
I may know a smidgeon more than many regarding this field, but I cannot by any means claim to be an expert. I would guess they live in Africa and the Rainforests of South America, but I shall do my best in future posts to share what experience I do have and the knowledge I have gained.

Before I do, I have to say that it was the enquirers mention of having witnessed the people of Afghanistan and “seeing what they do” that really caught my attention and set the little cogs turning. I believe I understand what he is referring to.
When I was fifteen I had the privilege of visiting India. This was a profound experience that I have no doubt has shaped my present and will my future. I, a teenager at the time both blessed and cursed with having been born in an age of rampant technological progress and the economic boom of the 90's, seeing people living in abject financial poverty. These people had few to no possessions of monetary value and yet were seemingly happier and more content with their lot than any single person I had ever come across. From the overcrowded train carriage, a relic of a bygone age, I observed filthy young scamps very much enjoying a game of cricket in the Sun, wickets constructed from gnarled sticks, laughing and evidently happier than any of my fellows in Britain with their Playstations, televisions and mobile phones. An impossible number of houses lined the railway banks, constructed from a myriad of salvaged waste materials. Here was necessity mothering invention on an awesome scale though now the materials were not natural, rather the economic and industrial cast offs in an urban setting.

It is therefore little wonder that whilst my local tip proudly displays a sign claiming to have recycled 73% of the waste handled last year, countries such as India and those in Africa can easily claim over 95%. The common denominator? Money, or rather the lack of it.
Money is a magic bullet that can often bring about a desired outcome or secure an acquisition that outsources the challenge of manifestation to another. I view each pound sterling as a unit of time. Sometimes the exchange is very efficient, for instance an air rifle. How long would it take you to construct and manufacture such a device? If a good quality rifle costs £300 new, and you earn £50 a day, six days of paper shuffling/labouring/bin collecting/filing sees you outfitted with something that it is fair to say would have taken you a damn sight longer than that to make!
Conversely the hundreds of pounds spent heating, running, renting/buying your home each year and the hours spent working a repetitive job you ultimately resent and despise and keeps you from those you hold dear in order to meet those bills is an example of the insanity money perpetuates. I find it more efficient to live close to my family in a caravan with a wood burner and collect and process the wood myself. Gas for heating costs me £35 every five months! Barely a days labour if I do choose to sell my time...

Now it may seem that I have digressed, but the above is intended as a background illustration of why most of us (myself included to an extent) do not fully exploit the resource and opportunity each of our kills presents. We lack need.

I am told that food is the cheapest, for us wealthy countries, than it has ever been before. - We do not need to eat that rabbit.
Clothing is practically disposable, - No need for the fur. 
No need to tan, - no need for the brain.
Needles are mass produced and lets face it, with clothes no longer mended who the heck needs those anyway, so – bones not required.
Glue is readily and cheaply available manufactured from chemicals, - no need to boil the scraps of hide/ eyeballs.

I daresay the list could go on but I think you catch my drift.
To the enquirer and the curious, as a start, I refer you to my 'Make Your Quarry Pay' post.
Regarding pigeons, it did seem somewhat shameful and criminal to use just the breasts, and with this in mind I experimented with skinning it in order to cook it like one would a chicken. Please see this post for further details. Unfortunately I do not believe in this case that the extra effort required is beneficial for anything but the conscience. Amazingly those birds are seemingly 95% breast!

Feathers are the most obvious usable item of avian quarry. Jays for the electric blue wing feathers, prized by fishermen, magpies I believe also. 

For the remainder of my life I will endeavour to experiment, test and research further ways that I may honour that which I kill, but I will say this. In nature, ultimately, there is no such thing as waste. This is by no means a truth upon which we may excuse ourselves, only you can be the judge of the acceptability of your habits, but it is a truth nonetheless. Parts that are presently unusable to me, I 'offer to the woodland gods'. To date, no offering has thus far been rejected and in this knowledge my conscience is soothed.

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