Ethical hunters are respectful — they could tell you more about their harvest than most could tell you about the steak they bought from the shop. Sadly, this respect has been seen as a negative by most outside of the world of hunting, not the untapped resource it is.
The respect of true hunters for the animals they harvest also translates into a pool of knowledge on sustainability, conservation, population management and food preparation of an untapped wild resource.
And fishing is in the same boat according to game chef Daniel Airo Farulla.
“Apart from loving game food, hunting is a good resource,” he said.
“It’s healthy and lean, I can harp on about (its benefits) for days.
“In deer country most hunters find there is a beautiful fresh water stream filled with trout right there next to them.
“As soon as you put food on the table people don’t think about the hunt.”
He makes an interesting point.
Surely this must be the case he said, otherwise people would get upset over the process of how their store-bought protein gets to them.
If they thought about the process of factory farms and abattoirs, they would treat the people involved in that process the way they treat hunters.
“Game food is quite rich, it’s a heavier meat. It holds up better in the middle of winter,” Daniel said.
“Talking about the summer harvest fish is a bit lighter — it’s what we are working on today.”
His dish — cured trout — is an excellent challenge either at home or outdoors.
“I’ve got a passion for curing things,” Daniel laughed.
“To cure something, you need to remove the moisture,” Daniel said.
“It’s almost like you’ve cooked it without cooking it.”
Sounds easy enough.
Walking around into the kitchen at Merchant, the self-proclaimed lover of organisation and planning, has laid out everything he needed for the curing — including a very large trout.
He is adamant this dish is different from your usual smoked salmon.
“I was hoping for something a little smaller,” he laughed as he proceeded to fillet the fish.
“Take off one side and the side next to that — It’s always harder doing the second side so let’s hope I can do it nicely.
Daniel said like game food, wild trout (and other wild fish) are an excellent, healthy resource for people.
He said the pigment of the flesh is a good indication of what they’ve been eating.
“Depending on where the rivers are, they might be darker, they might be lighter.
“Even deer are like that.
“Some deer, like fallow from a certain area, might be a darker black colour. Another might be a lighter fawn colour.
“Generally speaking, fish eating mostly crustaceans — such as yabbies’ and muddies and insects like grasshoppers — have calcium on their skin, so they go a pinker colour.
“If they are eating fish and other small things like that, they go a whiter colour.
“It also depends on the season — there are quite a few factors, but generally it’s a good indicator to see what they are eating.
“Even beetles and bugs on the top of the water, they are still going to have the colour in there.”
After filleting the fish Daniel removed the ribcage and began removing what he called the pin bones.
He explained pin bones are associated with the lateral line, a fish’s biggest and arguably most important sense.
“They’ll smell in the water and they’ll see but they notice all these subtle changes trough their lateral line,” he said.
“It’s this line that runs down the side of the fish.
“Any change in temperature, chemical composition, vibrations anything like that.
“Those pin bones correspond to this line of the inside.
“They feel it and it travels through the bones to the spine and it sends messages to the brain.
“It’s pretty full on.
“Even subtle changes, like 1 degree in the water temperature, are picked up because, it could be the trigger to spawn.”
Daniel is a clear reflection of the passion of sustainable recreational hunters and fishers, everything he harvests he uses.
This and his knowledge on the harvest is something most people take for granted.
It takes a lot more time and effort to go out into the bush, track down and harvest wild game, bring it home and eat it. And the same applies for fishing.
The time and effort, it’s dedication that should be celebrated not condemned.
“It’s a bigger commitment than a quick jaunt down to the local shops for an easy steak, that’s for sure,” he added.
“And the final product — the reason for the hunt — the meal, it’s never out of reach for the everyday Joe.
“It’s generally the simplest part.
“But it’s hard for it to be simple when we shut the door on sustainable hunting like we would a door-to-door travelling salesman.”
So, to those who want to shut the door on sustainable hunting, give Daniel’s recipe a go, and then let’s chat.