Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Montego Bay businessman Robert Russell (right) shows off his culinary prowess during the bird feast at the start of the bird shooting season last weekend. He is assisted by chief/cook of all social occasions, Lloyd Irving. The feast took place in Irwin, below Kirpatrick, in St. James. – Janet Silvera Photo
The whiff of the highly-seasoned baldpate and white wing birds caressed the nostrils and delivered signs of hunger straight through the stomach last Sunday morning.
The scene was one of gigantic pots seated on wood fire, birds taking the roasting of their lives, bird shooters in a jovial mood, as Appleton VX, Courvoisier, curried goat and scrumptious wild pig became the order of the day.
The venue was deep in the bushes of Irwin, St. James, just below Kirpatrick, where the dirt tracks are much kinder to four-wheel drive vehicles and the forested area is accustomed to men and women dressed in camouflage six weekends throughout the year.
The scene was complemented by 'bird boys' happy to have their pockets blessed with the average $3,000 that they make each weekend.
Yes, it couldn't be more apparent that bird-shooting season had started in style and the unmistakable camaraderie was extremely apparent.
The over 4,000 permits that were given to shooters had already started to multiply into a fantastic community outreach programme.
"I have been a bird boy since the age of 11," said 30-year-old Anthony 'Indian' Matheson, who now works with some of the hunters in his adult life.
"Lots of friendships are born right here in the bush, the trickle-down effect is tremendous," remarked Jason Walton of Jasing Trading Limited - operators of Best Value - who is an avid shooter.
Only migratory birds are shot, and 99.9 per cent of them are eaten, he was quick to add. Each hunter is allowed to bag 20 birds in all, with only a maximum of 15 baldpates.
Those who left their beds at 4:00 a.m. last Sunday so they could take part in their favourite sport included, Robert Russell, head chef; Johnny Gourzong, Gene Farmer, George Grey, Michelle and Ron Stanecky and their 20-month-old son, Evan, Lloyd Irving, Robin and Jason Russell, Douglas and Tony Golding, Ruddy Gracey, Frankie Bullock, Captain Patrick Smith and wife Meisha, Peter and Nadine Rigg, Rory Chin, Paul Myers and Joseph Smith.