This week, Tim Hanks and his new Labrador puppy Roe, had the opportunity to visit Gundog Trainer of the Year and dog whisperer celebrity-owed Gundogs, Ben Randall. Ben now has his own Gun Dog App and it’s proving a sensational hit among gundog owners.
On arriving at his five-star training facility and luxurious boarding kennels in Herefordshire, Tim was so impressed, as it is clearly purpose built and family run ‘all hands to the pump effort’ twenty-four hours a day, 365 days of the year.
Ben and his wife Nikki welcomed him into their gun room, adorned with beautiful oil paintings of game birds and opulent furniture made from antlers, there was also a lovely collection of hand carved and painted ornate walking sticks, each with a different bird’s head.
Tim really enjoyed meeting Ben and giving a venison butchery masterclass to him and his family, showing them how to get the most out of each deer carcass.
Tim brought with him a Roe deer carcass, which had been harvested locally just five days before to use for his butchery demonstration.
Ben’s father Keith has become a dab hand at making his own burgers, venison loin is a firm favourite with all the family and lean haunch steaks are a great way of packing in the protein for the boys whenever possible.
“As a professional stalker myself, it was great to meet a family so passionate about the land, stalking and shooting game for the table. It is great to see that they are ensuring correct handling of deer carcasses and the Fisher Stalker Deer Larder is just the job and a great addition to Beggarbush HQ. Ben’s passion for his craft as an expert gun dog handler shines through everything he does, he lives and breathes everything countryside and is determined that his sons maintain their love of shooting and harvesting wild venison as a form of sacred down time and relaxation together – It is really great to see traditional pursuits being handed down through the generations as my father did with me and now I do with my son.”
Ben’s sons, Jack and Joe (pictured below) are well on their way to a career in professional rugby, and as such need to eat a great deal of protein. Ben and Nikki have venison on the menu most nights of the week and are certain that their teenage sons massively benefit from this healthiest form of red meat.
“I love spending time with my sons out in the field as I did with my father. There’s something romantic about spending hours observing the behaviour of a herd, then selecting an animal to shoot and take back to our purpose-built game larder. To know that that animal will then be eaten by my family and I and any waste then to the dogs, we are using the whole carcass. Having Tim here today is brilliant as its not every day that we get the opportunity to enjoy a venison butchery masterclass from the current game butcher of the year.”
After a tour of the kennels and a show-round of the Beggarbush facility and training paddocks, Tim then met Hollie, a shiny black Labrador, one of Ben’s many gundogs. Hollie worshiped her master and wouldn’t move without his command. It is this excellence in control that guns need when out in the field and an example of the perfect companion for stalking and commercial shoots.
Tim Hanks then took to the butcher’s block with a whole carcass of local wild roe deer, harvested five days before in Herefordshire. He proceeded to then break it down into primals and then boned-out the haunches.
One haunch was rolled and the other as seamed-out into topside, silverside and thick flank, which was then cut down into more manageable sized haunch steaks.
Finally, Tim boned-out the saddle and removed the back straps and removed the fat and the sinew, leaving the prime eye of the highly-prized loin which we then cooked and enjoyed in Ben’s beautiful country kitchen within the lodge.
“The most important thing you have to remember when breaking down a carcass of venison is to always make sure you’re comfortable when butchering meat and that the meat is not the ‘comfortable’ element, as this is how accidents happen. The trick is to always ensure you have clean, clear surfaces. We broke the carcass into primal cuts to make for easier handling when the butchery process is underway.”
Tim is very much looking forward to welcoming Ben and Nikki to his venison and wild boar butchery and cookery lesson in his recently launched Hanks’ Butchery Academy at Harts Barn Cookery School on the 9th March.
Anyone else who is interested in joining this fascinating session with a top local chef can click here to register and book their place.
The day finished with Ben showing Tim how to train his red Labrador puppy how to walk to heal and gave him some top tips on training her.
Ben has created a rather ingenious Gun Dog App, which gun dog owners can by and use as a constant reference guide for training their dog.