The Guga Hunters of Ness

The Guga Hunters of Ness

“A BBC feature documentary about a Gaelic island community in Scotland embarking on their epic annual seabird hunt in the treacherous North Atlantic.

Every August ten men from Ness set sail through the gales of the North Atlantic for Sula Sgeir, a desolate island 40 miles off the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Following in the footsteps of countless generations, they leave their normal lives behind to hunt for the guga, the meat of the young gannets.

The men spend two exhausting weeks on the uninhabited rock, sleeping in stone huts amongst ruins left by Celtic monks a thousand years ago. They work ceaselessly, catching, killing and salting 2000 birds using traditional methods before returning home with this rare meat so cherished by the people of Ness.

These are the last men allowed to hunt seabirds in the EU and the UK and for 50 years this ancient tradition has remained hidden from the cameras. In 2009 we sailed with the hunters and filmed their unique voyage.”

The Guga Hunters of Ness – Trailer from Intrepid Cinema on Vimeo.

The dead birds are then brought back to Lewis and boiled in milk and served as a delicacy. A delicacy for some for others their salty, oily flesh is an acquired taste: ‘ like salt-mackerel-flavoured chicken’, as Lewis writer Donald Murray put it.