Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eating Roadkill

No, this is not a joke and I'm not trying to be morbid. In the state of Idaho, it is legal to pick up roadkill and use it for personal purposes. In our case, we saw an opportunity for meat and a usable hide. It's important to be discerning of what roadkill is appropriate for picking up off the side of the road. A few things to consider are: What is the state of the animal? Lots of blood, guts and smell should be a pretty clear sign this is not the animal to be ingesting. How long has the animal been lying there? If rigamortis has set it, just leave it…it's probably too old. 

This really isn't intended as a DIY post but rather a way to re-think and re-purpose that "gross old roadkill" we so often drive by without much thought. 

I actually did intend to make this into a DIY-butcher-roadkill-at-home kind of post but the day was beginning to get warm and we needed to get the meat into the freezer ASAP. As the days get colder, I can take my time with more thoughtful and detailed pictures of how to butcher a small ruminant animal, step-by-step, at home. An extremely valuable skill to learn if you eat meat.

This yearling doe was probably hit just a few hours before we found her a few miles from home. It appeared that some ribs were cracked and a lot of internal bleeding in the inguinal region as well as multiple herniations. To be on the safe side, we took only the neck, hind and front quarters. We did not gut the deer in order keep any contamination from getting on the good meat. Skinning a deer requires starting in the pelvis area. This is a picture to show how easy it can be to pull away the skin for a salvageable hide.

Hind quarters to be processed and wrapped. There was a surprising amount of meat on such a young doe.

If you are ever uncertain as to whether the meat could be consumed, just leave it. But! the hide from the animal can be a very useful and valuable asset. My husband is a hide-tanner by trade and many years of self-study. This hide is ready to be scraped and put into a wood ash solution for brain tanning.  

Luckily, we both had a free morning after finding this yearling deer on the side of the road to take every usable part for processing into meat and someday, some soft smokey leather. The remaining parts were given to the coyotes in our back-40.
 For our family, picking up roadkill can bring some meaning to an animal's untimely death. It's body will be regenerated into nourishment and clothing rather than be desiccated into bits all over the road. Being that there is so much waste in our society, this can be one small, yet impactful, way to salvage free food and a chance to find useful tools, such as bones, hide and hooves.

Many good stews and roast await our dinner plates this month, thanks to this young doe. We are full of gratitude for her life.

Please feel free to comment about anything regarding this post. I understand this can be sensitive material for some and I can also offer more outlets for DIY butchering small game if there is interest.