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Home > Magazine > Cooking > The Wonders of Roadkill

The Wonders of Roadkill
September 27, 2007

I'm starting to think that roadkill is really the way to go.

It's sad that the drivers are put at risk and their cars mangled but roadkill happens. And maybe it even works to control some species of game in a similar way that hunters do. (We have a ton of deer here in semi-burbia, where there isn't space to hunt---but if none were hit by cars we'd have far more.)

And roadkill provides the public with the same reward that hunting does in many cases, that is:

FRESH TASTY MEAT!

If it's meat you want, hunting really might not always be the best way to get it. In rural areas, all you have to do is pay attention as you're out and about biking or driving and you'll see fresh roadkill.

Very lightly struck critters abound. If you find a fresh, warm, limp one that wasn't damaged (much), why not just stash it and bring it home? Anything else means wasteage as far as human life goes.

Sure, if roadkill rots along the road then bio-life benefits. But if the roadcrews come pick it up, most of it goes to a landfill, which is probably a somewhat sealed climate. Nothing good comes of that. Except maybe methane gas usage a few years later, I suppose, for landfills that use it.

But with roadkill we often have PERFECT GREAT QUALITY MEAT right there, for free.

Now, there are sometimes a variety of laws which apply.

But most importantly: Salvage the meat if you want it. Waste not.

Here in Michihoots, the law for deer is to call the local L.E. and get a permit. It's a free "on request" permit. Sometimes an officer will come out and issue it, other times you can stop by with the deer and pick one up.

The Michigan law for small game is trickier: you need a small game hunting license and it has to be in season! This law is apparently prevents poachers from having a handy reason why their trunk is full of game in the summer: "I found it along the road." This seems like a bit of injustice and illogic pasted into the lawbooks to patch a gap. The need for meat does a better job.

You can't ever pick up endangered specie roadkill (unless you're a licensed taxidermist). Yeah, all the birds of prey MUST go to waste. Strange, but there ya have it.

But basically any game animal should be fair game.

I'm even thinking of going just for the tastiest bits. If I see a deer that's going to be wasted why shouldn't I just pull off the road and in a quick minute slice out the backstraps? Actually, I don't know the best way to handle this. Maybe haul the deer back in my small utility-garden trailer, take the tasty bits then dispose of the carcass. But where? I know a DNR expert who has no specific recommendation here. The DRN official website says to bring carcasses to a landfill or PERHAPS risk a ticket. My hunch is that if you dispose of a carcass far off the road on public land, where no one will see it or be bothered, then that would work, as with any other deer that just dies in the woods. Also like if you had had a deer camp on the same land and had processed a deer. I believe that game animal (and fish) remains are basically just allowed to be sensibly disposed of. The problem comes in when people dump near people or roads: then it's ugly litter.

When I *shoot* a deer I always butcher the whole thing and end up with 2 small trash bags for the regular trash.

Anyway, instead of going to the store for steaks, in cold weather or during the rut, it might not take that much more time to drive around the block, find a fresh kill (get a permit, haul it away) slice out the loins (haul the remains back into the boonies) then head home for dinner.

Keep a bag in the car. And in the pannier/trailer on the bike.


Neighbor Chris loves roadkill, just like me... We just had a wonderful roadkill potpie...fed us for days... Another neighbor did up like 6 deer in one day...he said it takes him 45 minutes to go from seeing a deer to having it processed and in the frig.

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