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Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t eat pigeons

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pigeons

by Isaiah Cunnally

It would probably be best to break their necks; it can’t be that hard, their necks, I mean. I’d like to be all kosher about it and slit their throats; and if you’re confident enough to do that in a public street, and walk back to your dorm covered in blood, be my guest. I’m a little more self-conscious. Of course, I’m only joshing; I haven’t done it, yet. I’m working my way up to it.

I’m not sure exactly when the idea of hunting pigeons for their meat entered my head, but I do know it’s a thought that has been growing in power.

Last week I ate, more or less, the same rice dish for lunch and dinner for five days straight. I cooked all the rice on one day, mixed it with two kinds of condensed chicken soup, and then sealed up the whole concoction in three medium-sized Tupperware containers. Some days I ate it microwaved with frozen vegetables and Season-All season salt; other days I used spaghetti sauce and Season-All; a few times I sautéed it in olive oil with Season-All; once I added corned beef and just a pinch of Season-All.

The previous week was the same, except with cold spaghetti instead of rice.

Eating this way, muscles shrinking from lack of protein, I pass these fat, fat pigeons every day on my way to class. Hundreds of them. I always see more than a handful with double chins, which is really fucking disturbing, because pigeons aren’t supposed to have any chins.

And they are so cocky, too. I can, and do, go up to pet/smack them any time I feel like it. Half the time the little bastards won’t even shuffle out my way.

I go by these flying rats and I think about how long it’s been since I’ve had any meat that wasn’t spiced, corned, or served from a can. A lot of them look pretty damn healthy. I bet they’re getting their protein. I never had game bird before. Would I eat that chicken fillet if I had to watch its eyes go dead with my hand at its throat? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I would. With ketchup.

I was reading Possum Living by Dolly Freed recently. I like her attitude: “Pigeons are consistently excellent eating. Besides being more plentiful and less wary than other game… they’re so stupid.” She warned that there isn’t a heck of a lot of meat on them, but they’re extremely easy to catch.

I went to the Student Services office in the Sharp building a few weeks ago. I’d heard students could get food vouchers and I wanted some. Now, it’s not like I was starving or even out of food. I’m just the kind of guy who, if there’s money coming my way, I want it. So I went to the offices; they made me fill out a form, and then some guy gave me a check made out to Jewel for twenty bucks.

Please now, don’t spoil me. If SAIC wants to do some real good, they should hand out nets. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Give a man 20 bucks that are only good at Jewel and he’ll consume a twelve pack of diet coke, some pasta and sauce; but give a man butterfly net plus a decent gutting knife and he’ll eat ’til winter.

I’ve yet to do research on how diseased pigeons are, but I can’t believe they’re any dirtier than pigs. In her book, Freed doubts that pigeon slaughtering is a health hazard. “Wash your hands after cleaning them and you’ll have no problem,” she states. She claims to have known a man who slaughtered thousands of pigeons and never caught a disease from it.

On a LexisNexis search I found two Illinois codes (Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated by Mathew Bender and Company) that imply that pigeon killing might be legal. The first said, “It shall be unlawful for any person at any time to take, possess, sell, or offer for sale, any of these wild birds,” and it listed a few hundred species. But not before stating, “Except for… the Rock Dove or Domestic Pigeon.” The other article mentioned legal protection for owners of show, carrier, or racing pigeons. The article stated that fines of up to $100 could be incurred by someone for harming one of these, but no mention was made of wild pigeons.

So one might assume that if it doesn’t have a collar, it’s fair game. Even if someone does own the pigeon you just ate, I’m sure they’ll get over it. The inevitable question is whether or not this idea is moral. I will answer that question in two parts.

1. I propose the kill method should be simple: a quick neck-snapping or skull-crushing that can probably be done with one’s thumb and index finger while wearing heavy gloves. Tools are most likely unnecessary, although delicate women and men with pretty hands could use a metal wrench.

2. They’re fucking pigeons; who gives a shit? I could understand the aversion to hunting wild monkeys or something, they can scream. But pigeons? I hate to use relativism to make a point, but I still don’t see myself thinking too much about whether or not my bird had a wife and kids while it’s laying on a bed of Spanish rice seasoned with oregano.

I don’t feel like my plans are immoral. If all the smokers at this school killed a pigeon instead of getting their fix, maybe my asthma wouldn’t bug me between classes. I’ll barbeque the first pigeon in effigy to all the assholes whose death-cloud I walk through every time I go in, or out, or pass by, an SAIC building.

The point I’m trying to make is that we’ve got two problems that could solve each other. An over-population of pigeons and a prevalence of students with inadequate nutrition who are strapped for cash. For all students living in the dorms, you’ll almost certainly have to kill, or at least daze the pigeons before you bring them to your room. According to the SAIC Residence Hall Guide, “No live animals but fish are allowed in either dorms.” If you live in an apartment off campus with loose or poorly enforced pet codes, you could probably set up a row of cages to feed and better monitor the pigeons for health and suppleness.

Kara Hall is a spunky, young go-getter here at SAIC. She claims to have had success trapping pigeons with several methods, and although she was probably humoring me, here’s what she said: “If you throw a towel over them, it can restrict their flight. Then you can grab them.” Although Hall is a vegetarian and admits to never actually having eaten a pigeon, when I asked her if she could hunt them, she replied, “Hey man, if it come to that.”

It may be assumed that this is a fairly labor-intensive, cost-saving idea, with all the catching, cleaning, and cooking. Most students are busy enough just with schoolwork; several even have jobs. That’s why I believe founding a social club around hunting pigeons would be very helpful. If the school sanctions the club, it would be eligible to receive funding for supplies and other ingredients. Cook-offs and Frisbee golf could be fun. I recommend a name like “The Young Americans Club,” so it would be harder for weirdos (vegans) to protest.
I realize this article may not resonate with the prevalent vegetarian/hippy crowd at this school. But for those who are sick of all the frozen pizzas and Wendy’s burgers, and are willing to take that extra step, listen to my words: Pigeons are slow and they don’t scream.

FEBRUARY 2006

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