Game is any wild animal hunted for food. Although, at least in North America, there are many farms specializing in “game”, the taste of the hunted wild meat is more appreciated, more tasty, and “gamey”.
In Europe, hunting is a popular and expensive “sport”, and there are many hunt clubs that organize hunting parties complete with guides, and packs of specially trained dogs. The hunters may be mounted on horses, in four wheel all terrain vehicles or on foot, equipped with expensive, carved rifles designed for different game.
The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset (1881 – 1955) defined the appeal of hunting in the modern era as a return to mankind’s ancestral relationship with the natural world. “Herein lies the grace and delight of hunting, where man, cast through his ancestral proximity to animals, plants, minerals, at one with nature, takes pleasure in the skilful return thereto, the only occupation which allows him something semblant to a holiday from humanity… When you are sick of the irritating day-to-day, of being very 20th century, take your shotgun, whistle for your dog, head to the mountains and, for a few hours, relish being Palaeolithic…”
For centuries, hunting was the major leisure pursuit of the Spanish aristocracy, in whose hands it took on the sophistication of something like an art form.
Europeans in general are more enthusiastic hunters than North Americans, and on the Old Continent hunting is an expensive propositions for city dwellers. In the countryside, hunters just hunt in season and either use the meat for their own consumption or sell it.
Game Meat comes from a natural source, and is free of additives and hormones, contains less fat and cholesterol, contains up to 50 per cent more protein than beef and half the calories.
It is tougher than domesticated animals’ meat and must be cooked expertly to render it tasty and tender.
In Finland, per capita annual game consumption is 9 kilograms. Although Finnish people consume a lot of game, New Zealand is the largest producer of farmed game. Their deer are raised year round and some of the meat is exported. The country produces approximately 70 per cent of all game in the world.
Canada also produces game (both hunted and farmed), but figures are not available. Bison, wild boar, deer, quail, and pheasants are available in specialty butcher shops, but the taste of the meat fails to correspond to the “authentic” product.
Germans and French are avid game consumers, and import most of the meat they consume, although there are thousands of native hunters.
In Africa, game is called bushmeat, and many species such as antelopes, duiker, gorillas, porcupines, cane rats, quails, rock pigeons, teals, partridges, and guinea fowls are freely available in markets., whereas in Australia, deer, rabbits, feral cats, kangaroos, crocodiles, wild camels/horses can be purchased in specialized butcher shops.
British, who love to hunt, like ptarmigan, brown hare, deer, wild duck, snipe, wood pigeon, Canada geese; while in Nordic countries wild boar, moose are preferred.
Game naturally is tough, and requires marinating, braising/stewing, or slow roasting but the taste of properly cooked is incomparable.