(if you’re particularly squeamish, probably best not to read this… or the book)
This little trick is a quick way to remove a pigeon’s breasts with your bare hands so if you’re in a survival situation and you don’t have a knife, this is a good way to not expend precious energy plucking a small bird. I did this on a weekend wilderness survival course and it was gruesome but was also a fantastic experience and one I just had to put into The Wolf Road, blow for blow, so to speak. **Obligatory Announcement: Please don’t go down to Trafalgar Square with a net, you’ll be arrested. Besides, urban pigeons are nasty, you want wood pigeons nice and plump from countryside living.**
Elka describes the process of removing a pigeon’s breasts with just her hands better than I can:
He was a bit small and the only good eating on a small bird like that is the breast. Trapper taught me a trick when I was eight for getting in and getting out quicker’n a fox after your chickens. First I broke the poor devil’s neck, nice and quick like so the meat didn’t have no time to tense up with fear. Couple’a twists and a few sharp tugs and I had his head and wings on the grass in a neat pile. No point being messy. Killing can be clean and neat if you don’t put no fury in it.
Pigeons are clever birds see, no matter what the town folk say, and they keep seeds and nuts and whatever they been eating that day stored up in their necks for tougher times. This guy had a couple plump acorns and I figured I ain’t letting these go to waste. Acorns is good eating if you cook ‘em up right. I put them in my pocket and dug both my thumbs deep in the bird’s neck. I always loved this part when I was a babe, feeling how the bird’s put together, all that fresh, bright blood telling me there’s goodness to be had. Hell, it was like touching god and seeing his thoughts when he decided on the design. Fact that it was so easy told me we was meant to be doing it. Even my young’un hands had enough strength to pull apart breast and back and turn that pigeon inside out. I opened it up like a juicy orange. Scraped out them guts and set ‘em close and neat ‘side the wings, then just peeled them breasts away in one clean chunk. Dark, purple, heart-shaped goodness it was, still warm and ready for roasting.
**Disclaimer – I’m not a survival expert. Don’t try this stuff at home, please don’t go killing pigeons in your garden. If you do want to try this, you can buy whole, feathered pigeons from a good butcher or market. I accept no responsibility etc. If you want to learn more about survival, there are dozens of fantastic courses you can take and I encourage you to do so**