Scotland's game heritage

Wild game refers to all animals and birds hunted and cooked for the table. Due to an active life and natural diet, game tends to be lean, dark coloured and has a stronger flavour than farmed animals or birds. The Scottish Highlands are one of the last 'wilderness' areas of Europe with wild game being free to roam at will over massive areas. Game has been hunted for sport and for the table form many centuries.

The most humane way of culling is with a high powered rifle and any person involved in the cull must be able to demonstrate their competence and accuracy prior to going to the hill.

Game Heritage

 

Game Guide




Stalking

Stalking follows very traditional lines and is undertaken during the seasons laid down by the law, to allow deer the peace and quiet that they need to give birth and rear their young. As a successfully stalked beast may be many miles from the nearest track or road, and as much as 3,000 ft up a mountain, removal to the game larder is a logistical problem. Traditionally this is undertaken by loading the beast onto the back of a Highland pony (a Garron) but it may now more commonly be brought down in an All Terrain Vehicle such as an Argocat.The carcass is brought down to the Estate's Deer larder where it is cleaned and refrigerated prior to collection by the Game Processors refrigerated vehicle. All carcasses are tagged with a unique number along with details of where and when it was shot and by whom.

 

Selection

We select the best quality game from our approved SQWV supplier. We insist on prime specimens and never accept deer that may be very old or in poor condition, which tends to happen towards the end of the season or after a long winter.

 

Birds

It takes great experience and skill to distinguish young from old game birds. This selection is important as, whilst they may look similar, there is a big difference in the eating quality. Young birds (hatched that year) are extremely tender and so are more suitable for roasting and quick cooking methods.





 

 




Game Seasons

The seasons for hunting game are determined by breeding season. For purposes of conservation, it is important that each species should breed uninterrupted and their offspring grow to a sufficient size to enable them to breed or at least to be worth hunting and eating.

It should be noted that these are the seasons during which game may legally be stalked. Frozen game may be sold at any time provided it was legally shot within the season. Our game is professionally shock frozen to lock in the quality, nutrition and flavour, and is an ideal way to enable you to enjoy this superb meat all year round.

Deer seasons vary between Scotland and England / Wales, however, since all Donald Russell deer are sourced in Scotland, only Scottish seasons are given.

Game Heritage

Please note that under the Hares Prevention Act 1892, we are unable to sell hare between 1st March and 31st July.

Game Heritage

 




Furred Game

Game is divided into two major groups: furred and feathered. Furred game is subdivided into large animals (red/roe deer and wild boar) and small animals (hare and rabbit).


Red Deer

This is the largest of the native deer species in the UK. Although present in England, by far the largest population is in the Scottish Highlands. Red deer graze on a wide variety of vegetation ranging from grasses to heather, mosses, shrubs, berries and lichens. They move in herds sometimes numbering several hundred, from the high mountain tops in the Summer and Autumn (where they find good grazing) to the glens and forests in the winter (where they seek shelter and food).

Roe Deer

The smallest of our native species, Roe are the most widespread of our deer and are found in and around woodland in every county of mainland UK although Scotland remains the biggest stronghold. Numbers have increased considerably in the last 20 years as a consequence of increasing forestation and improved habitat. They are a solitary species, rarely seen in more than a family group of two or three.

Hares

Hares are native to the UK where two species are present the Brown and the Blue (or Mountain) Hare. Both species of hare can be distinguished from rabbits by both their size and the black tips on their ears.

The largest of these is the Brown Hare which is found on agricultural land throughout the country. The Brown Hare has suffered in recent decades from agricultural intensification and numbers have declined in many areas, particularly the West where the wetter weather has also contributed to their decline, although they are abundant in the Eastern counties. They are noted for their courtship boxing displays in March from which the phrase 'mad as a March Hare' comes. The Blue (or Mountain) Hare is a creature of the wild, open mountains and moorland, and is found predominantly in Scotland but with populations as far south as the Derbyshire Peak District. This hare is smaller than the brown and changes its coat from brown in the Summer to white in the Winter. Its intermediate Spring and Autumn coat gives rise to its 'blue' name. Populations are cyclical and so vary considerably from year to year. In good years, many are shot but in other years very few will be taken.

Game Guide

 

Red Deer Loin Fillet Red Deer Rack Red Deer Haunch Roast Red Deer Haunch Medallions
Red Deer Loin Fillet Red Deer Rack Red Deer Haunch Roast Red Deer Haunch Medallions
The grain of this species is similar to that of beef and should not be overcooked. Serving this meat medium rare gives the best eating quality. Recommended cooking method is pan frying to medium rare. This meat is very lean so be careful not to overcook it. Cut from the loin and with the bones remaining, an extra depth of flavour is given when this joint is roasted. This cut cooks in under an hour and makes a great centrepiece. Cut from the leg, this roast is lean and perfect for family dinners. It benefits from traditional roasting to release its earthy flavour that comes from a natural foraged diet. Lean portions of highly flavoursome meat cut slightly thicker than Roe Deer Medallions and best when served pan fried to medium rare.
Diced Red Deer Roe Deer Haunch Roast Roe Deer Loins Hare Fillets
Diced Red Deer Roe Deer Haunch Roast Roe Deer Loin Hare Fillets
A popular and versatile cut that is suitable for all slow cooked dishes but especially good when braised slowly in red wine and aromatic spices. Swiss cut by expert butchers who have removed the H-bone and knuckle making for easier carving at the dinner table. Roe Deer meat is the finer of the two varieties of venison we offer. Its mild flavour and texture is why connoisseurs regard it as 'top of the range' game. Recommended cooking method is pan frying to medium rare. This meat is very lean so be careful not to overcook it. This connoisseur's game is rich and dark, with a robust gamey taste to match. For best results a cooking method of pan frying is recommended. Please note that due to the seasonality of this product and under the Hares Preservation Act 1892, we are unable to sell any hare between 1st March and 31st July.




Feathered Game

PheasantPheasant Wild

The Pheasant is by far the most numerous of British game birds, with probably in the region of 20 million being shot each year. Originally from Asia, it is thought that they were first introduced by the Romans, although it is only since the advent of modern shotguns in the19th century that numbers have increased sufficiently to allow for sporting driven pheasant shooting.

Although considerable numbers do breed wild in the UK, many more are released into the wild each year to supplement numbers. Pheasants are present in almost every part of the UK and inhabit woodland fringes and land where cover is available as they do not like wide open spaces. Adult pheasants will weigh in the region of 1.0-1.5 kg.

 

 

 

PartridgePartridge Wild

There are two species of partridge in the UK, the English (or Grey) Partridge and the Redleg Partridge:
English (or Grey) Partridges are indigenous to the UK and inhabit open farmland, principally in the eastern counties of England and Scotland. This is a species that has suffered as a consequence of intensification of farming and loss of habitat. Many landowners are making real efforts to improve numbers and have imposed a voluntary shooting ban. Therefore, wild Grey Partridges will have originated from responsibly managed estates where a surplus exists.

The Redleg Partridge was originally introduced from Spain and France. This is a species which thrives on open arable farmland but will also adapt to marginal moorland situations if additional food is provided. Numbers have increased considerably in recent decades to the point where it is the second most numerous game bird in the UK. Redlegs have a varied diet ranging from insects to seeds and plant shoots and leaves, an adult Redleg Partridge will weigh in the region of 400-500g.

 

Wood pigeonPigeon Wild

Unlike many bird species, wood pigeon have prospered with the intensification of farming as this has provided them with a year round food source. Numbers have increased in arable farming areas of the UK and are now abundant.

The wood pigeons eat a variety of seeds and green leaves and shoots giving them a rich gamey flavour. They nest from May to September, typically producing two chicks (squabs) per nest. Adult birds will weigh around 400g.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MallardMallard Wild


This is the most common of our native wild ducks found on ponds, lakes, rivers, coastal marshes, reservoirs and any other body of water. Their diet consists of plants, seeds and insects and they have proven to be very adaptable as industry and the human population has encroached on their preferred habitat.

In common with most game birds, the male (drake) is more brightly coloured than the female with a characteristic green head and neck, and white neck band. Adult mallards will weigh in the region of 1kg.









game game game game
Stuffed Pheasant Stuffed Partridge Game Bird Supremes Mallard Duck Breast
Only the leg bones remain in this beautifully presented roast allowing for easy carving and maximum value for money. Hand-stuffed and tied, the slightly sweet stuffing complements the mild gamey flavour of this bird. These are the perfect roast for one; they have been expertly prepared and then wrapped in bacon to ensure they stay moist. These too have the carcass removed so are easy to carve and cook in just 45 minutes. A selection of the finest flavours the wild has to offer. All the cuts cook quickly and easily and are exceptionally good when served with a simple red wine sauce. Game Birds Supremes include Pheasant-, Mallard Duck-, Pigeonand Partridge Breasts. A world away from our Barbary Duck Breasts, these have a deeper, more complex flavour, characteristic of wild game. They are slighty smaller in size too but the flavour punch more than makes up for that.
game game game game
Pheasant Breast Partridge Breast Fillets Pigeon Breast Diced Game Birds
Due to the genuinely wild nature of these birds, they are extremely lean and yield a light coloured meat with a mild gamey flavour. Treat them as you would hicken for deliciously different meals. A wonderful delicate flavour makes partridge a welcome, seasonal change to chicken. These neat cuts are perfect for smaller appetites but can be doubled up for a hearty meal. With a depth of flavour and colour more intense than other game birds, these meaty morsels are great seared in the pan and served with a fruity sauce. A combination of diced pheasant, pigeon and partridge make this a mix not to miss. The classic depth of flavour these birds have means they can take on strong flavours well and are especially complemented by rich fruity sauces. Great when served hot in pies or cold in terrines.





Guide to our Poultry


Provenance

All our free-range poultry is sourced from the famous Loué region in North-West France, near Le Mans, where the farmers are passionate about welfare and quality.

We believe the best tasting poultry comes from birds that have been reared with respect.

Consequently, plenty of exercise coupled with a longer period of growth and development (approximately twice as long as that of most standard poultry (see page 6) results in leaner meat with a firmer texture and stronger bones.

 

Totally free-range

All our poultry is free-range, and when we say free-range, we really mean it. Few poultry farmers can even meet the demanding Label Rouge poultry welfare stamp. Ours use that stamp as their starting point, going far above welfare benchmarks on a daily basis.

By day, our birds have the freedom to roam and peck under
rees and hedges. All our poultry farmers far exceed the free-range gold standards when it comes to space. Then by night, for their comfort and protection, our birds rest in cosy, fox-proof shelters with plenty of room to move around and spread their wings whenever they want to. The shelters are even painted in specially chosen, restful colours to help minimise stress.

 


The French way of enjoying poultry

The traditional French way of cooking poultry is to 'à point', or medium as we know it, rather than well done. They believe that cooking to this degree gives the best texture and eating quality. If you wish to cook your poultry like this then it must be cooked on the same day it is defrosted.

Remember, for the best eating experience, please do not over cook Donald Russell poultry.

 

The right breeds

We don't believe in supplying fast-growing breeds that lack quality and taste. Instead, we select ancient, slow-growing breeds. This is real, old fashioned poultry that has a naturally robust, meaty texture and is packed with taste to ensure you enjoy authentic, rustic flavour.


Perfect pasture & food

Our free-range birds wander at will across organic pasture that is laid specifically for them, using just the right grasses and plants - no bare soil. And, of course, we feed them only natural, non-GM food containing vegetable proteins (soya, rapeseed and sunflower seeds) and cereals (corn and wheat) which constitute at least 75-85% of the feed. No animal matter or growth factors are ever used.

 

Food safety

Every product you receive is labelled with a unique identification number which can be used to follow any individual bird's history, right back to birth if necessary.

The number denotes:

  • Origin, breed, life-span of its parents and grandparents, date of hatching, the setting and name of the breeding farm where the chick was born.

  • Name and address of the farmer.

  • Exact details of feed ingredients, the place and date of slaughter, a review of the period of growth and development.

  • A product check.

  • Organoleptic qualities of meat i.e. its appearance and taste, guaranteed freshness and food safety.

 

 

 

Game Guide

 


Guinae Fowl Capon White Chicken Yellow Chicken Stuffed Duck á l'orange
Guinea Fowl Capon White Chicken Yellow Chicken Stuffed Duck à l'orange
Ring the change with an extremely flavoursome, succulent free-range guinea fowl. With a mild gamey flavour, you can cook it just like chicken for a stylish and scrumptious meal. If you enjoy free-range chicken with an authentic, rustic flavour, this is the choice for you. Unlike chicken you might buy elsewhere, there’s no added water in these birds so for perfect results, be careful not to overcook them. For a moist, juicy texture and beautiful golden flesh try these traditional free-range chickens. With no added water, you will find stock made with this is superb and jellifies well – one of the signs of a really great chicken. Hand-stuffed with a meaty filling made from free-range turkey and orange. This bird looks and tastes fabulous and has a wonderful aroma. Delicious eaten either hot as a roast dinner, or cold as part of a luxurious buffet.
Guinae Fowl Supremes Corn-fed Chicken Supremes Corn-fed Chicken legs Duck Breast
Guinea Fowl Supremes Corn-fed Chicken Supremes Corn-fed Chicken Legs Duck Breasts
You can use these free-range specialities in much the same way as chicken supremes. The taste is quite similar but just a little gamier. Elegant and full of flavour, we recommend them cooked with apples or pears. Their beautiful colour and gold standard flavour is due to the chicken's natural, maize-rich diet. They come ready to cook, with the skin on and the bone in to give the most intense flavour. True to their free-range lifestyle, these legs are firm and meaty and have a stronger flavour than breast meat. They are great braised or oven roasted with a little garlic tucked under the skin. Plump and tender portions of pure duck flavour. These have a firm, hearty texture and fabulous 'true' taste, without a hint of greasiness. The skin crisps up beautifully and the meat is succulent and tasty.
Goose Duck Legs Confit Duck Legs Slow Cooked Chicken Legs
Goose Duck Legs Confit Duck Legs Slow-cooked Chicken Legs
A truly traditional flavour, goose offers rich, dark meat with a toothsome bite. Usually served from Michaelmas through to Christmas and New Year, it makes a tasty change from turkey at many festive tables. Juicy and full of flavour, you can use our high quality duck legs anywhere you might usually use chicken. They are especially good in hearty casseroles - or try them slowly braised with lentils. Ready to heat and enjoy, Confit’ [kohn-FEE] comes from the French verb, 'confire', which means to preserve. The meat is first cured with salt and pepper, then cooked in its own fat until meltingly tender with a beautiful texture, and a rich and satisfying flavour. Expertly prepared and cooked using the 'sous-vide' method favoured by chefs on the continent, which really locks in the moisture and flavour, with an excellent texture.
Loue Guinea Fowl Loue Duck Loue Chicken Loue Goose




Preparation Tips

Q How do I cut a whole chicken into small protions?

How to cut into small portions

A

  1. Cut the chicken in half using poultry scissors and remove the back bone as shown in image.
  2. Divide the breasts and legs by cutting through the thin connective layer.
  3. Divide the breasts in the middle and the legs through the knuckle into thighs and drumsticks.


Q How can I prepare a whole chicken for the BBQ?

How to barbecue

A

  1. Turn the chicken onto the breast side and cut along each side of the backbone and remove it.
  2. Turn the chicken over and press down with your hands to flatten.
  3. Thread a skewer through the bird to hold the wings and legs in a flat, splayed position.


Poultry carving tips

Good carving techniques come with experience, knowledge, and the right equipment. But most importantly, your bird should be allowed to rest for at least 15 minutes beforehand as this will allow it to 'set' making it easier to carve.

To carve properly, a good, well-balanced and correctly sharpened carving knife is essential. It should not be serrated as this encourages a sawing action and gives an unattractive appearance to the meat slices. A blunt knife encourages hacking which makes the meat seem less tender and can ruin even the most beautifully cooked meat. We also recommend a good quality, large wooden carving board with a non-slip mat or wet tea towel underneath to prevent it slipping.

Carving whole birds

1. Remove the legs by cutting between the leg and breast. Twist the leg to break the joint and cut through the knuckle.

 

 

 

 

2. To half the leg, cut through the knuckle either with a carving knife or poultry scissors.

 

 

 

 

3. Remove the breast from the carcass by cutting along the breastbone and down through the wing knuckle. Divide the breast diagonally into 2-3 pieces.

 

 

Game Guide