Celebration of Game
As the air turns crisp and leaves begin their vibrant transformation, autumn is a time to connect with nature as we approach game season. Whether you're a seasoned hunter, an avid nature enthusiast, or simply a trencherman at heart, game season offers the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and celebrate traditions infused with a dash of adventure.
Connection to nature
Responsible hunting and conservation play a vital role in maintaining Britain’s countryside. Game season focuses on the nation’s wild animals and birds and the diverse ecosystems that make up their natural habitat.
Along with foraged bounty from the hedgerows, game season is a celebration of flavours unlike any other. From succulent venison and tender pheasant to the earthy richness of wild partridge, each dish tells a story of tradition, culture, and provenance.
What are game meats?
Game meat has been consumed for centuries, tracing right back to our early ancestors. Wild meat such as deer, elk, boar, rabbit, pheasants, partridge, and grouse are observed and hunted. Nowadays, the appeal of game lies in the distinct flavours that wild meat carries, shaped by the animal’s natural diet and lifestyle.
When is game season?
The UK game shooting season is governed by various regulations and laws to ensure sustainable practice. It varies from region to region and there’s not one stretch of game season as each variety of animal has its own window of opportunity.
More than simply dates in the diary, however, the changing seasons and celebration of wild game represent ancient cultural traditions that would have been marked for centuries. From local fairs celebrating the harvest to bonding over hunts and cooking meat in fire pits, the season brings communities together to break bread around the table and toast the seasons.
Grouse - The start of game season kicks off on 12th August, also known as the ‘Glorious Twelfth- until 10th December.
Partridge - Both red-legged and grey partridge shooting seasons start from 1st September until 1st February.
Pheasant - The ever-popular pheasant shooting season starts on 1st October and ends on 1st February.
Ducks and geese - Wildfowling or waterfowl hunting begins on 1st September and ends on 31st January.
What does game taste like?
The taste of game meat varies wildly based on the animal’s diet, habitat and cut of meat being consumed. However, there are some general characteristics associated with the taste of game meat:
Rich and earthy - this flavour comes from the animal’s naturally wild diet, often full of foraged plants, grasses, and herbs.
Lean and intense - wild animals naturally move more than their domesticated counterparts, creating leaner meat. This gives a more intense, robust flavour - and a tangy, musky ‘gameyness’.
Seasonal influence - you’ll notice the flavour of meat change during the hunting season. Younger animals have delicate flavours, while more mature animals offer greater complexity and deeper flavour.
Foraged flavours - you might notice hints of the animal’s diet. For example - plants, roots, seeds, bulbs, berries, and herbs they’ve been grazing on.
Why eat game?
Naturally low in fat but high in protein and packed full of flavour, our new Wild British Game Collection is responsibly sourced from approved British estates that ensure all game is handled and cared for correctly.
Packed with nutrients.
In addition to providing an excellent source of lean protein, game meat is known to provide higher levels of essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins. It’s lower in fat compared with domesticated meats - so it’s a great choice for health-conscious people.
The sustainable choice.
The sustainability of wild game depends on responsible and ethical practices, adherence to regulations and a commitment to conservation. We love wild game for being supremely free range, often naturally organic and has a lower carbon footprint than many other meats.
Game season helps to control animal populations - preventing the dominance of a single species and ensuring a stable ecosystem. Hunting licenses and permits contribute towards maintaining and protecting natural habitats for wild animals and biodiversity.
With an uncompromising commitment to sourcing and creating delicious British produce with the highest regard for animal welfare, our new game range carries the British Game Assurance (BGA) stamp and offers the very best in quality, provenance, and taste.
What is the British Game Assurance?
The British Game Assurance ensures that shoots across the country follow high welfare standards with an independently audited Assurance Scheme. This allows a reliable and reassuring route for game meat to make its way into the market and onto our plates. It’s then sealed with a BGA stamp of approval, the game equivalent of the Red Tractor stamp.
Louise Clutterbuck, CEO of British Game Assurance says, “We are thrilled to have collaborated with DukesHill to create their new Wild British Game collection, bringing game to the plates of more and more people. The collection celebrates all that is great about game; it’s astonishing versatility, its healthiness and its sustainability as a supremely free-range, low-carbon-footprint meat. Better still, all the meat within the collection is BGA-assured, meaning it’s guaranteed to be high quality and sustainably sourced. I encourage everyone to head to DukesHill and take their pick of a very tantalising selection of game products from the Venison Wellington to the Three Bird Game Roast and more.”
Tips for cooking game
Naturally earthy game meat offers rich, robust flavours. From hearty stews to gourmet burgers and elegant roasts, there’s plenty you can do with game.
- Start with good quality meat from a reputable source. Look for British Game Assurance so you know the meat you’re consuming has been hunted ethically and sustainably.
- Defrost frozen meat carefully. If using frozen game, thaw it slowly in the fridge overnight to maintain its texture and flavour.
- Brine first. A great way to tenderise and infuse flavour deep into the meat is through brining. An overnight solution of salt, water, perhaps a little sugar, along with aromatic herbs and spices such as bay leaves, peppercorns and perhaps cloves - can give your game meat an amazing head start.
- Cook slow and low - or fast and ferocious. As game is naturally lean, it can become tough if overcooked. Either cook using gentle heat such as braising, stewing, or using a slow cooker to ensure juicy results. Or sear quickly over a high heat so you caramelise the outer meat but leave the inside succulent.
- You’ll need a meat thermometer. The crucial step to the best results is monitoring your meat's core temperature with a thermometer. Either probe with a manual thermometer or try a Meater Plus for peace of mind. For medium rare results, aim for a core temperature of 54 - 57c.
- Rest the meat after cooking. Allow the juices to redistribute after the stress of cooking, will give you more tender results.
- Slice against the grain. When you slice against the grain, you shorten the muscle fibres which makes it much less chewy.
- What grows together, goes together. Choose herbs, nuts, berries and complementary flavours that enhance the natural flavours of game meat. Look to the animal’s natural habitat for inspiration. For instance, you’ll find deer surrounded by hazelnut trees, blackberries, mushrooms, sloes, and juniper.
Wine Pairings - what to pair with venison?
Sourced from deer, venison is cherished for its distinctive taste, lean profile and versatility. Try our irresistible venison loin with roasted roots and blackberry sauce recipe. Perfect with a bottle of Chateau Argadens Bordeaux 2018.
Wine experts, Tanners says: “With its rich gamey flavour Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the perfect grapes to pair. This wine has a lovely blackberry tang which marries with the blackberry sauce and brings out the earthy notes of the root veg.”
DukesHill Wild British Game Collection
Venison Loin Fillet (min 450g)
Sourced from approved British estates our wild Venison Loin Fillet is of the highest welfare standards. A tender and succulent fillet, it’s versatile with a delicate flavour and is perfect for frying or roasting.
Venison Wellington (min 700g)
A luxury twist on a classic British dish, this Venison Wellington makes for a delicious dinner centrepiece with a rich and robust game flavour. Tender British venison fillet is wrapped in mushroom duxelles and buttery crisp puff pastry.
Venison Rolled Haunch Joint (min 500g)
Cut from the top of the hind leg, this tender and flavoursome Venison Rolled Haunch Joint is simple to cook and easy to carve and makes a great Sunday roast.
Three Bird Game Roast (min 1.3kg)
The magnificent Three Bird Game Roast of pheasant breast is stuffed with both partridge and pigeon breast along with a pork, sage, and onion stuffing. It’s topped with smoked streaky bacon and a rosemary sprig and carries the British Game Assurance stamp to ensure the provenance of this meat is of the highest regard for animal welfare.
Stuffed Pheasant (min 600g)
A British seasonal speciality, this delicious Stuffed Pheasant is lean and rich in flavour. With a naturally sweet, earthy and delicate flavour, pheasant is terrific served with mashed potatoes, buttery mushrooms and a pheasant gravy.