Birdshot: It’s What’s For Dinner!

Because you have not lived until you’ve spit out a little ammo at the supper table!

My Dad is a hunter.  Years ago, he primarily hunted ducks and geese.  Also many years ago, he and my husband took a trip to South Dakota:

philandpheasants dad dead pheasants

Husband                                                         Father

The scene of the harvest in this mid ‘80s South Dakota picture, heads draped over the edge of the tailgate, is a familiar one to me.  I remember being young, maybe 8 or 9, and taking a long time to get up the nerve to go TOUCH one of the lined-up fowl.  Of course, at least in my memory, it is dark in the driveway. Very dark.  No starlight, no moon, no nothing.  Just a tailgate full of dead ducks, and for whatever reason I had myself convinced that if I were brave, I would go touch one.  Laura Ingalls wouldn’t be afraid to touch one. 

That wet-cold texture of the lifeless down:  So soft and so terrifying to me.  This terror brought on a mad dash into the house, heart racing, trying desperately not to act like I was scared to death.  They were getting tired of my scared-to-death routine, see, which may have been encouraged by my friend across the street, one year older, who liked to exploit my fear of vampires.  (Vampires didn’t used to be cute.  They used to be Vincent Price.)

vincent price

I’m scared all over again


But like the Good, Bad and/or Ugly vampires, aren’t we all innately at home with our position on the food chain? 


Well, let me tell you what:  If you lacked that natural comfort, then there was nothing like a hunting father in the 1970s to make sure you GOT comfortable with it.  No one would have dreamt of making a kid a separate dish for supper because she didn’t want fresh-plucked duck!  Not a chance!

And here’s how the catch was prepared:

Dredge game in flour, fry like it is a chicken, probably in Crisco. This worked for any and all game whatsoever.  Geese, Ducks, Rabbits.  Drain on paper towels.  The finishing step:  Simmer the bird in  Midwestern White Sauce in a cast iron skillet until tender.

Cream of Mushroom

  Midwestern White Sauce

So there you have it.  Dinner was fried and simmered game, green beans, mashed potatoes.  And although it may seem like I am poking fun at my folks’ manner of cooking, I am not, I promise.  It was a delicious Sunday dinner.  (Supper? Dinner?  The third meal of the day.)


Maybe Dad had heard the crunch?  Maybe he felt the vibration of a tooth threatening to crack bouncing off the walls, slapping him in the forehead V-8 style, reminding him to warn us: 

“If you bite down on any birdshot, just spit it out.  It’s lead!  You’ll get ptomaine poisoning and lead poisoning and maybe lockjaw.  So spit it out!”

(He really did not say anything about ptomaine poisoning or lockjaw in this instance, but he has a very healthy fear of ptomaine poisoning, and my pet disease fear at the time was lockjaw, which may or may not play into the vampire phobia.)


“And get your hair out of your eyes, Cindy.  You look like Gloria Steinem.”

How about you?  Ever shared your plate with buckshot/birdshot?


PS:  My Doniphan, Missouri, raised mother-in-law ate plenty of wild game in her youth.  I asked her how her mom prepared it . . . I already know canned soup was not their normal fare, and Campbell’s probably didn’t have Cream of Mushroom in the late ‘30s/early ‘40s anyhow. . .Here’s what she said:

What I remember is that it was so good!  We didn’t do ducks or geese, Mom always said that they were too greasy, but boy, could she cook squirrels and wabbits.  I’m sure you have heard that I sucked squirrel brains…LOL, Sorry, but they were good!  Mom sorta cooked them squirrels and rabbits like stew meat and then made this fantastic gravy with the drippings.  I think they cooked pretty quickly, not tough.

Thanks, Jeannie!


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