It Is true that twenty five years ago there was very little beef and only some pork and some poultry on the island, but our avid hunters tell us that there was plenty of game meat. This has been confirmed to me by Sammy Gonzalez, today’s most avid sports hunter in San Pedro. Our Mestizo ancestors ate only some of them, but the fact remains that there was still plenty, even today.
First and foremost is the deer. There are two species of deer up north Ambergris Caye- the one with the branched antlers and those with short sharp horns. These animals grew up to 200 pounds dead weight feeding on the grassy savannahs up in Basil Jones area and Rocky point. Hunters like Jose Gonzalez and Gabby Perez hunted them in daytime when they came out to feed or in the night with the use of battery powered headlights. The 12 and 16 gauge shotguns were used for this purpose. It is proper to mention that licenses were not required back then for these type of shotguns.
Another popular game animal hunted for its meat was the peccary. Very large wild boars were sighted in large herds in the same area up north, and though they were infamous for attacking by charging after humans, they were still hunted for their delicious meat despite their ugly scent. When two or three of these pigs were shot by a hunter, it was fiesta time in the village for him, his family and friends.
Wild turkeys have always been in fairly large flocks on the island. They feed on seeds in the bush and can be heard rustling in the foliage and shot at short distance, or better yet for the sports hunter, in the air. A sixteen gauge shotgun with small pellets can land you three to five turkeys in one shot and these weigh anything from ten to twenty pounds. Talk about a culinary party! Also found as game birds was the pheasant. The large males with their brightly colored feathers caused hunters to hesitate in shooting, but the taste of meat was greater, and they too were gunned down for a delicacy barbecue.
Then there is the gibnut a ten-pound rodent that looks a large rat, but whose meat is also a Belizean delicacy. (note: Queen Elizabeth II visited Belize and was feed gibnut thus the new name given to the gibnut is “Royal Rat”.
Raccoons are abundant on the island, and though many Sanpedranos do not eat them for they claim the meat is too tough, many claim it too is very delicious and in the past an excellent substitute to the everyday fish pots. Land crabs have always existed by the thousands all over the island, but Sanpedranos preferred the sea crabs over them, claiming that they are cleaner animals. How about the armadillos or “tepesquintles” as they were called on the island? They too were hunted on the island. Now as to other birds that were eaten, there was the cormorant (black looking duck), and other ducks that migrate from the cold northern climate from November to February. There are hunted all over the lagoons on the west side of the island. The full pot is the local name given to the large heron feeding along the beach the entire length of the island. Convinced that there is a lot of game meat on this island? Next week I want to take you on a hunting expedition I made 25 years ago.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist