This past week I went from meat poor, to very rich. In this episode of Rewild My Bio I tell my story of how I recently secured venison for my freezer via roadkill. I go over a check list of safety precautions you can take when processing roadkill for consumption. Stop by the show notes at rewildmybio.com/roadkill for a transcript of things to consider so that you can put food on your table and make the best out of an unfortunate situation. If you found this episode helpful please rate and review the podcast on the platform of your choice. This helps me make the podcast better and helps others find the show. Stay Wild!
Suspending judgment and staying open to the idea of consuming roadkill; Roadkill carpaccio; Gross vs. good food; Know the law; safe collection and stopping to breathe and connect; Use your senses to assess for freshness to ensure safe consumption; Assess for external and internal damage; Look out for tainted meat, bugs, and maggots; Have your bug out bag with supplies; Choose the gutless method if you suspect major internal organ trauma; Blessing and thanking your animal; Processing and butchering; Cooking.
Tips for procuring meat from a roadkill whitetail deer
- Safe collection: Take a breath and be aware of the surroundings and be mindful of traffic.
- Know the law: Some states and provinces require tags and in others, it is illegal to collect roadkill or possess any dead wild animal. Look into your local regulations.
- Freshness: Only take roadkill that you can deem is fresh enough for safe consumption. The climate you find the animal in will determine what senses will be important to pay attention to. Use all your senses (including your intuition or sixth sense). You definitely want to use your eyes and nose. Check to see if the animal’s eyes are clear, if milky or cloudy the animal has been dead for a while. Check the elasticity of the skin, it should be able to pull away from the muscle and the animal should not be in full rigor mortis though some stiffness should be expected after a few hours or if the animal has been sitting out all night. Do not take meat that is covered in bugs or maggots.
- Assess for external and internal damage: Be aware of whether there was internal damage and if the stomach acid and contents leaked as this could spoil and/or taint the meat. Look for road rash and cut away any meat that has coagulated blood or bone fragments. Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp bone.
- Be prepared: Have your bug out bag ready by having a bag full of knives, rubber gloves, game bags, and even having a cooler in your vehicle to collect small game or store meat that has been cut off of animals that couldn’t be 100% salvaged. If you are on foot, a backpack with knives and game bags is ideal and if you find a larger animal like a deer hopefully you can phone a friend for help.
- Processing and Butchering: If you do not know the time of death it is best to try to process the meat as soon as possible so to get it cooled. It is best that you remove the animal from the side of the road for processing and do it in a safe way that is respectful to non-hunters. Choose the gutless method if you suspect a lot of internal damage otherwise continue to gut as normal for whitetail deer. Impact damage will determine how you go about butchering the animal for your freezer. The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook is a great resource for butchering big and small game.
- Thanking and blessing the animal: With procuring any wild foods it is important to pay respect and honour the plant, animal, and place you are harvesting from. If you are a hunter and have a usual gratitude practice for when you kill an animal, it seems appropriate to honour your roadkill in the same fashion. An attitude of gratitude helps us stay open to receiving the many gifts of Mother Earth and is a noble step in helping the animal transition to the spirit realm and onto your dinner plate.
- Cooking the animal: If you were unsure of how long the animal was dead for, or if you have any indication that the meat was on the verge of spoilage be sure to cook your roadkill thoroughly. When in doubt throw it out. Things can change from the time of processing to the table. Maybe your excitement for finding a deer overshadowed your better judgement. If you feel that the meat is not safe to consume or not fresh properly dispose of it.
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