"ANY GAME?"

 

"Any game?" a man was heard asking the other day in a supermarket. A supermarket which carries a reasonable amount, in season. Just then there was only a wild duck or two. Still, not bad. Some people claim a certain fishiness to be found in this or that type of duck, but you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Game is game, and in these days of argument about beef and angel dust or worse, game seems to be food that has not been tinkered with. And anyway, a change. Nor is it particularly clear.

Duck of various kinds - mallard and teal, for example have been legally shot since September 1st, likewise snipe. On November 1st, cock pheasant and wood cock are legal prey, though the latter may not have arrived in great numbers yet.

And woodpigeon usually just as woodpigeon breasts - have longs been widely available. One topic that always arises with the game season is the shooting done by parties of foreigners. It is said that they "shoot anything and everything." This is, at least, exaggerated. They are usually - perhaps always - accompanied by Irish guides, who know what may and may not be done.

And Ireland is certainly one of the venues recommended by travel agents which specialise in game pursuits. For the big stuff - wild boar and other such - Middle Europe and Eastern Europe are the top areas, though there is boar shoot ing in France.

For Ireland, the promise is of small game only. One advertisement runs: "Ireland: woodcock, snipe, duck in great profusion in a very varied environment. Week ends from 5650 francs." (Say £700). They also deal in fishing, on more than 50 lakes. A week or six days' fishing, plane, car, full board, from 4730 francs. (Say, under £600). This shows a smiling chap cradling one of the biggest pike you've ever seen, while the advertisement about the game had a photo of four chaps, in front of which group lie the corpses of not too many birds and a couple of rabbits.

On the Continent, of course, they do shoot and eat birds which are not seen as game here, and are protected at all times. Thrushes, for example. Yet in France you will regularly come across tins of pate made from these birds. And a French magazine recently gave an article to the specific tactics needed in shooting song thrushes which, apparently, like to forage among the vines after the harvest has been taken. Lots of odd grapes lying a round then, it seems. So much so, that the birds may become giddy from them in their fermenting state.