We firmly believe that you should eat what you shoot and there is a big demand for woodpigeon. Here are some people who are eager to take your shot birds off you ...
Gamedealers will be more than happy to buy woodpigeon and, depending on the time of year and numbers available, will pay a fair price for birds in feather. You can expect about 30p to 50p for a bird in feather. It may not seem much but if you shoot straight, this small amount will help to cover cartridge costs or fuel. It is important that you build a relationship with a gamedealer, because on the red-letter days they will come to the field to collect birds straight away. When the gamedealer is collecting your product, present it properly, not in a sack or piled up in the shed. Crating or laying out the birds shows that you have treated them properly. The gamedealer will not take birds that are going bad in a heap. Be professional.
There are plenty of butchers who will take dead birds, but it does depend on the time of year and whether they know they will be sending them on. Most butchers are licensed to dress game, so will take birds in feather, and you can expect to be paid around 50p a bird. However, they will rarely take huge quantities because they will want to make sure they can sell them. You will find that most butchers will be keener to take them in winter than in summer. If you can get a couple of good butchers to take dead birds, it all helps.
Farm shops are always keen to take local pigeon — local being the key word. Local food is in fashion and customers are willing to pay for it. Farm shops will usually want the birds dressed and ready to be packaged or vacuum packed for sale. I have a friend who is licensed to dress feathered game on his premises so we share the reward once sold — a dressed bird ready for sale will fetch £1.50. This price can vary but if there is demand, the farm shop does pay well for your efforts.
Pubs and restaurants
Selling directly to pubs and restaurants will always bring the best price, which reflects the price at which they are able to sell a pigeon salad, for example. They generally expect the birds to be dressed but may require it delivered in different forms — for example, breasts, breasts with skin on, whole crowns or complete birds. They will tell you what they want. It’s great to go to a restaurant to which you have supplied pigeon and see the result of your efforts on the menu.
Friends and family
Giving birds to friends and family is a fantastic way of encouraging people to enjoy this food source. Birds can also be swapped for eggs, home-produced honey or a couple of pints at the local, which is a great way of sharing this delicious meat.