By far an under discussed topic of conversation, the delicate art of eating small game killed with a shotgun is a aspect of hunting and eating wild game that has costly consequences if not given necessary consideration. Having shared numerous small game offerings with friends, neighbors and strangers alike, many times, their baptismal taste of Squirrel and/or Rabbit, I make it a point to explain the necessity of changing one’s chewing technique to accomodate the occasional lead or steel shot nestled deep within a delicious shoulder or the potentially hazardous bone shard hiding near the shank of a rabbit leg.
It is, however, easy to forget. A Squirrel quarter is equatable to a chicken wing, both in size and familiarity. It is habitual to grab one and thoughtlessly take an agressive bite, especially if it is delicious. Wild game, naturally being a little tougher than domestic animals, can have you chewing in a slightly more forceful manner for a longer period of time, however, the moment you let your guard down, is when you end up with a cracked tooth.
Fear of cracking a tooth should not in anyway prevent you, or someone else from eating shotgun-hunted small game, you merely need to adjust your chewing style. Small bites are critical. Bite into the flesh using your front teeth and then delicately pull the meat away from the bone. Slowly and lightly chew with your molars. If there is a ball of shot or bone shard, you will usually know it right away, however, sometimes they do not immediately reveal themselves. Chew lightly. Never chomp down hard enough that a bite into steel shot would crack a tooth. Eat slowly and methodically.
Basically, eating game in such manner is not a thoughtless process. This slowed down form of methodical chewing becomes an aesthetic unto itself once you get into the rhythm of it, however, for the uninitiated, one must constantly remind themselves (or be reminded by you, the host) to use proper technique.