I just watched a superb documentary; The Guga Hunters of Ness in which a bunch of Western Islanders cross the North Atlantic to a remote rocky island to cull Gannet “ducklings” .
Beautiful, serene and awe inspiring.
But it would gie ye the boak eating them.
This is what the BBC website says about the documentary…
Ness is the last place in the UK where young gannets, known in Gaelic as guga, are hunted for their meat. The hunting of sea birds was outlawed in 1954 in the UK, but the community of Ness on the Isle of Lewis continues to be granted the only exemption under UK and EU law allowing them to hold the annual hunt.
Every August, ten men from Ness set sail for Sula Sgeir, a desolate island far out in the Atlantic. Following in the footsteps of countless generations, they leave their families behind to journey through wild storms and high seas to reach the remote hunting ground.
The men live on the island for two exhausting weeks, sleeping amongst ruins left behind by monks over a thousand years ago. They work ceaselessly, catching, killing and processing 2000 birds using traditional methods unique to the hunt.
It’s a great piece of filming and the music by the Dead Rat Orchestra really makes it haunting and beautiful. Highly recommended if you get the chance.
I also watched a programme a few years ago featuring Gordon Ramsay cooking Guga. (I think it was The F word). It created a furore at the time because some people got all uppity about conservation; but they are entirely self sufficient as a species and in no danger of being hunted to extinction.
Here’s a Guga recipe I found on the BBC website
‘First catch your guga..and keep it a year in light diesel oil- if unavailable tractor paraffin will suffice. Drain the guga in a pale of water from the well and rub down with a strimmer as you would with Peking Crispy Duck. Put now clean bird in baking tray overnight on low heat in the Raeburn 1O0 degrees or three peats. The smell will now have cleared your house of mice and earwigs. Remove oil from top of pan in morning and fill tilley lamp with it. Bird should still be tough. Cut half into goujons and place under the grill and serve covered with crowdie. Remove reaminder and peg it out on the washing line. When it’s dried out in the breeze see whose shoes need resoling the most in your family and the guga will do the job better than anything any cobbler on the mainland can provide.’