Small Game Hunters and the Pursuit of Nutria
March 21, 2013 – As we sit in the off season for the majority of Carolina’s small game, there is one prey out there that can be hunted year-round with no limitations—the nutria (also known as the Coypu). Ever since Andrew Zimmer sampled and praised these creatures, foodies have been flocking to our coastal areas to taste these animals that can best be called a beaver-like aqua rat.
Hunting nutria keeps one in practice until November rolls around when pheasant and rabbit are back on the market. The nutria is such a versatile small game animal to hunt, as it can be hunted from boat or land, with or without dogs.
Nutria can be very elusive and require excellent marksmanship. Almost any type of airsoft guns and rifles will kill the nutria without damaging the meat. Air powered rifles are also ideal for hunting grouse, pheasant, squirrel, and quail making them truly the rifle for all seasons. Nutria can be hunted from a small watercraft close to shore, or from the marshes.
Originally imported from South America to be farmed for their fur, nutria escaped into the wild and quickly populated. Without hunters this invasive species would wipe out local species that help keep our ecosystem in balance. Between the months of February and November, hunting nutria not only keeps one’s shooting and tracking skills finely tuned, but depleting the numbers is good for the environment. There is no need to buy a hybrid car when you can shoot nutria!
As mentioned briefly before, more people are starting to eat nutria. These creatures are high in protein while being low in fat. They are appropriate for a heart-healthy diet, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. You can take your favorite chili meat, and add the nutria as a low-fat alternative to beef. You can even grind nutria with pork, add some sage and Creole seasoning, and make sausages. These can be eaten as is, or mixed into a Jambalaya.
By engaging in the hunting and consumption of nutria, Carolina residents can take an active role in honoring the rich local ingredients of their lands. They can also play a role in popularizing the marketability of this pesky species and encourage more hunters to get involved.
Hunters can also help hold on to old traditions while making some money. When it comes to hunting small game the nutria can not only pay off in means of a tasty and nutritious meal, they can also put a little extra cash in your pockets.
With fewer trappers around to keep the numbers down, there are ongoing programs that give hunters cash for every nutria tail they present. In addition to the extra cash, nutria hunters can help preserve a dying tradition that is barely clinging onto existence by some of the old timers. Fur trading used to be a massive industry in days long ago and is a part of the Carolina’s rich heritage. By taking your kill to these preservers of local history, you will be playing a role in honoring the past while trying to resuscitate life back into a craft on the verge of vanishing. Clearly, hunting nutria offers numerous benefits to the hunter, his land, and his local history.