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What do you/would you pay for small game?

How much would you pay for small game? And if you are getting it, are you going to a supermarket, butcher, or other source?

At a local co-op store, I can get rabbit for $12/pound. Another local store had them recently at $32 for the rabbit. A local butcher recently had pheasant available for $13/pound. These prices seem absolutely outlandish to me. I'm curious how they compare to what others are seeing. (Curious--I still won't pay $12/pound for rabbit, even if you are paying $15/pound.)

After getting back to eating meat a few years ago, I've tried to branch out from more common meats of my pre-vegetarian days. For a while I was able to enjoy rabbit quite a bit, but I've lost my connection for affordable rabbit (I was getting a whole rabbit from free to $10).

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  1. I suppose a lot of it depends on where you are. Here in SoCal most of the frozen rabbit is from China and typically sells for about $8/lb., or did last time I was shopping for it. I understand that some live-poultry houses in L.A. County have rabbits which they'll slaughter and clean for you, but I've not investigated that. Domestic recipe-ready rabbit at the better butcher shops is priced pretty much as you've noticed.

    "Small game" is something of a misnomer, as only captive-raised birds and small animals can be legally sold in the US. Back where I came from, rabbits and squirrels (which get really big in Illinois!) are commonly hunted, but by law can't be sold, nor can wild birds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Will Owen

      Good point on the misnomer, Will.

      The cost amazes me. In part I suppose because these are the foods we had in my childhood--along with squirrel--that we knew signaled that times were really tough. My southside Chicago-raised dad would go out and shoot us a bird or squirrel or rabbit because we couldn't afford "real" meat. Now rabbit is 3x the cost of my "happy" local chicken.

    2. Have you thought about raising your own rabbits to butcher? As a kid I raised rabbits, really pretty easy, I admit we didn't butcher them, and I admit some of them would have been better off butchered after I lost interest...haven't thought of that screwup in 40 years....
      I do not know about he food to meat conversions needed to get to butchering size...but with kitchen scraps it might be worth while if you eat fresh fruits and veggies and have a source of "hay".

      Just don't name the lil critters!!!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Raffles

        I'm not sure what the city ordinances are where I live, but I'm an apartment dweller and know it would not fly in my current space.

        It was a friend of a coworker of my now ex who was doing just that and serving as my supplier for the free to $10/whole rabbit.

        1. re: debbiel

          You might be surprised at how small a space you need.... maybe not free range but doable in a 2x4 foot dog crate....if you don't think veals....

          1. re: Raffles

            Oh--wouldn't fly as in it would be in violation of my lease to have animals, whether as pets or as future food.

      2. I just recently saw rabbit at my butcher shop for 6.99 a pound. I thought that was fair.

        13 Replies
        1. re: suzigirl

          I would pay that. I'm on my way.. :)

          1. re: debbiel

            I am trying to convince my bf to come to the dark side. I haven't had rabbit in years.

            1. re: suzigirl

              I made a killer rabbit ragu about a month ago. With my last rabbit (sigh). And had lots of different rabbit dishes in my travels in Spain the last couple years.

              1. re: debbiel

                We raised rabbits as a cheap protein when I was a child. My mom always fried it because she wasn't an adventurous cook.
                I would love it if you could give me a rundown of the ragu. I might talk him into a ragu.

                1. re: suzigirl

                  Oh, shoot. I didn't use a recipe, and even I wish I had tracked it a bit more. Season rabbit pieces (I think mine was cut in 8 pieces), dredge through flour and shake off excess. Brown in heavy pan (I used one of my le creuset) in olive oil. Remove rabbit. Slowly cook celery, onion, carrot in pan. Here's where I don't remember--did I or did I not add tomato at this point. I considered it. I *think* I opted not to but don't recall. Add a bit of a bottle of red wine (white would also work mind you and may be more common, but it was dead of winter and the warmth of red was appealing) to lift everything off the pan bottom. Add rabbit back in. Pour in rest of bottle and add some chicken stock. Simmer for...some time. (maybe an hour? 1.5 hours? I'm so helpful!). When rabbit cooked, remove and cool. Simmer sauce down a bit (maybe about 15 minutes--nice and thick). Pull rabbit meat off bones, shred with your hands, add back in to sauce.

                  Someone with better cooking chops and knowledge could improve that description a LOT with their knowledge of how to braise and how to make a ragu. I can't recall what herbs I included, nor the amounts on veggies. I winged it, and it was good. :)

                  I wanted to serve it over papparadelle but could not find any and didn't want to make it. I ended up serving it over polenta. Fantastic.

                  1. re: debbiel

                    That works perfect for me. I cook exactly the same way, by feel. It sounds delicious.

                    1. re: debbiel

                      I wish it were available at an affordable price. I have been able to find a somewhat *local* purveyor. But come on $30.00--$35.00 for a small farm raised rabbit?

                      1. re: debbiel

                        I definitely think a long braise is the way to go.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          Now I'm drooling into my coffee. :)

                        2. re: suzigirl

                          Dusted with seasoned flour and fried in bacon grease and probably lard or tallow knowing my late mom. I know she used some bacon grease. So delicious.

                      2. re: suzigirl

                        Once upon a time, a long time ago, my kids requested braised rabbit for Easter dinner :) They like food :)

                    2. re: suzigirl

                      Last year I asked at WF if they had rabbit and they said they hadn't yet been able to find a supplier that raised them in the way that WF demands of their meat sources.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I have a decent butcher here. I will find out about them first. More than likely, they are locally raised.

                    3. This could be a whole nother thread about preppers raising food....

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Raffles

                        What's a prepper?

                        1. re: c oliver

                          perhaps my spelling... doomsday prepared persons...independent of all collapsed civilization....or someone with a huge root cellar and pantry...

                          1. re: Raffles

                            Thanks. I'd never heard the term.

                      2. For good wild game I rarely quibble on price. Things like duck, rabbit and quail are "sometimes foods" for us, mostly special occasion foods and not something we eat or want to eat on an every day basis.

                        Deer/venison is another matter. We could eat it weekly. My regular source of fresh now only hunts for himself. I often balk at the prices I see at specialty butchers since I know the real cost and have no idea of the source.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: foodieX2

                          I checked thinking that you must live outside the US but it appears not. Wild game can't be sold legally in the US. You can kill for your personal consumption but not sell it.

                          http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/conn...

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Sorry that I wasnt clear. There are a number of markets here that sell "farmed" venison, duck, etc. However I know a number of hunters who sell what they bag and I rarely quibble on price. They have done the work and the chance of us getting caught "breaking the law" is minimal. Its worth it for good game! But the farmed venison isn't worth the price, at least to me.

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              Ah, thanks for clarifying. I understand. My father hunted quail and dove. He said he could have bought from the finest game purveyor for less than it cost him per bird :) You had to have the dog(s), the guns, the ammo, the jeep, etc.

                        2. Locally shot game is readily available in farmers markets and supermarkets where I am. I'd expect to pay the equivalent of $8 for a rabbit and around $12 for two pheasants, at farmers markets (supermarkets generally a bit more expensive)

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Harters

                            Oh to be able to find them at those prices!!

                            1. re: Harters

                              We prefer to use the term "harvested game" .

                              1. re: Raffles

                                LOL.

                              2. re: Harters

                                Yes, even my fancypants organic butcher has rabbit for 5-6 quid and pheasant usually £6/brace, wild pigeon/partridges less than that.

                                Strangely, their quail comes from France! And are £9 for four. Perhaps quail is not so much of a game bird in the UK? The French birds are farmed, while the other game birds are shot.

                                1. re: Palladium

                                  Pigeon is dirt cheap. Our local farmers market never has whole ones - but there's usually a six-pack of breasts for a fiver or thereabouts.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Our butcher will also sell you many of the birds in feather for practically nothing- I think £1 or something like that. (Surely that wouldn't even pay for the buttons on the outfits of the hunting party we saw romping 'round Blenheim Palace grounds a few months ago.)

                              3. Ooh, good timing - I purchased three rabbits in NYC last week. Two were from Fairway in Manhattan ($10/lb, or ~$30 each) and one wholesale from a butcher in Queens (~8/lb, so ~$24).

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: sharebear

                                  30 bucks for a quazy wabbit? I recall a lunch buffet in Mexico at the Mayakoba that included stewed rabbit (to my surprise and delight as it was quite tasty) but there is no way they were paying those prices.
                                  One of the old original Mayan restaurants in the Yucatan is El Faison y El Venado, the pheasant and the deer, but they have disappeared in the last 20 years, along with the jaguars and howler monkeys. Still get some cool seasonal toucans and large flocks of screaming Amazon green parrots.

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Almost worth raising them again! Or rescuing from the ASPCA a few weeks after Easter.....J/K

                                  2. re: sharebear

                                    I paid about $30 also for a rabbit last year. I've no doubt it's supply and demand.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      My fiancé hunts small game i.e. rabbit, squirrel, etc. No way even if I couldn't get it free would I pay that price.

                                    2. re: sharebear

                                      Yikes.

                                      We had ~5 rabbits die on our property last spring (found the remains). Cats? Cars? We don't poison or trap.

                                      We are about ~1 south of Indianapolis, IN.

                                      We are vegetarians, but not opposed to others hunting or eating meat. I actually hate to see the rabbits going to waste!

                                      I would love it if some rabbit-meat-loving person who COOKS would harvest our bounty and actually USE the meat and bones.

                                      I type this as I am simmering veggie-stock from all the trimmings I have saved from the past month or so...

                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                        I used to buy carrots for the rabbits, they would pull them under a shade tree and feast. I think we have too many coyotes now, I seldom see rabbits but my area is overrun with Muscovy ducks.

                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                          That is weird... I hope you do not have a over population thing going on with lack of food or more importantly disease....

                                      2. Sigh … There used to be a restaurant south of Anchorage, AK called the Rabbit Creek Inn. It fronted the road, but had big picture windows looking out on a huge expanse of lush green lawn overlooking Cook Inlet, upon which gamboled and nibbled maybe a hundred or more domestic-breed rabbits, all destined to be somebody's dinner. More tender-hearted souls could choose to eat in a side room looking out onto nothing but scenery. We always loved to watch (and of course eat) the bunnies.

                                        I suppose it depended on one's upbringing. My then-wife and I were comfortable knowing that our food had a face, and maybe even a name; my mother was just happy to eat a rabbit she hadn't had to cook!

                                        1. My Caribbean market is selling whole rabbit for $3.99 per pound frozen. Source unknown.

                                          Cheaper than a box of shells. Not to mention the license.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                            That's a great price!

                                          2. We have a nearby butcher that sells rabbit and quail, plus things like alligator, boar and kangaroo, I believe everything is $19.99/lb across the board. Once in awhile, it's a fun/special meal.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: coll

                                              I think quail are more popular and less expensive at many Latin markets. A package of 4 frozen quail at the Acapulco Tropical store in Bradenton, FL is about $10.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Never tried quail actually, it seems too fussy. I am as cheap as they come if we're talking food shopping, but this poultry farm is worth supporting. I don't want my local source of alligator disappearing on me!

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Quail aren't "fussy" at all. Here's a quick recipe (although the mushroom part seems a bit much):

                                                  http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recip...

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    We love ruffed grouse which we harvest ourselves if we are lucky during deer season. We fillet the breasts, dredge in seasoned flour and gently sauté in butter. YUM!

                                                2. re: Veggo

                                                  Frozen quail by the box (cordonices) are everyday fare at the Latino stores here in SoCal, but also in any supermarket back in Tennessee. When I used to drive to my mom's place in Missouri there was a rustic restaurant/dance hall down by the river in Wickliffe with a big sign advertising Fried Quail feasts every Friday and Saturday night; I'm assuming they used the same deep fryer they'd use for catfish. Never got the timing right to try it, but I did cook a bunch I'd thawed on my kettle grill. Pretty good, but a bit fiddly.

                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    At my friend's ranch in South Texas quail hunting is big sport, with pricey pointer dogs. I'm a lousy shot, but more careful than Dick Cheney. Every Sunday for the traditional brunch the cook served smothered quail with biscuits and gravy. I contributed very few but I ate well.

                                              2. Wow - I raise rabbits for meat and this is the first time I have seen that sort of price!!!! $4/lb is more like it. But if that's what you're paying....

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JulieCunicole

                                                  Note to self: Go visit JulieCunicole.