5 Things We Learned Today About What It’s Like To Gather And Eat Roadkill

Image courtesy of northwestdad

Though the idea of eating something that’s been run over by a car and left on the side of the road might turn even some of the strongest of stomaches, the fact remains that there’s a lot of meat at stake, and there are those out there who are more than willing to pick up what others might not want and turn it into a tasty stew. But while you might be imagining a clumsy shovel and buzzing fly situation, in reality, says one avid roadkill aficionado, it’s a lot different.

NPR’s The Salt has a great profile of one such roadkill gatherer in Michigan, who shared his experience bringing in found meat from deer, pheasant, turkeys, you name it. In fact, he says, roadkill venison makes almost all of the red meat his family eats.

A few other things we learned about the practice of gathering roadkill that are worth sharing:

1. Even if it’s legal in your state, you still need permission: We actually knew a bit about this one, after Montana somewhat recently legalized roadkill collection for consumption. But it’s worth noting — in Michigan, for example, it’s finders-keepers, first-come first-served, year-round, as long as you report it to the police. There has to be a written record of when the roadkill was found and what it’s intended use is.

2. Roadkill is best collected cold: This isn’t a hard and fast rule, as again, Michigan and other states may allow for collection during any season. But at least so far as eating the animal is concerned, this particular collector only takes meat when it’s cold enough outside that fleas and ticks are all dead, and when the temperature can keep the meat from spoiling. Fresh meat is the best meat, he says.

3. No special equipment required: “The best thing is, you don’t need fancy tools,” he says, just “a pocketknife, once you develop the skill.” As for that skill — you’ll need a stomach strong enough to do some butchery work by the side of the road. This gatherer uses what he calls the poacher’s cut to quickly separate the meat he wants from a deer from the viscera, which if it’s damaged, could contaminate any muscles it touches.

4. Cleanup is relatively easy: Once he’s done, he simply drags the remainder of the carcass deep into woods on public land and lets nature take over from there.

5. Even kids like it: Though his kids weren’t quite thrilled with dad when he first picked up a pheasant along the road on their way to a vacation cabin, once he’d dressed the animal and built a fire at the cabin, the kids were on board.

“The kids had never eaten wild game before at that point, and they were skeptical,” he says. “I put the pheasant in foil, with carrots and onions and a little bit of garlic, salt and pepper, and in a couple minutes it was ready. They turned into barking seals. They were trying to snap it out of my fingers.”

The Accidental Hunter: For One Outdoorsman, Roadkill Is His Only Red Meat [The Salt]