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roadkill deer

 
patrick mort
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ok. this is my first post on this forum. ive been listening to some of mr. wheaton's podcasts and poking around on here but i now have a question maybe someone has a good answer to!
this morning i was in my work van driving down a rural road. i saw a dead deer on the side of the road and wondered how long it had been there. my coworker was stopped up the road a bit so i pulled over. he says that he just hit a dear. his front end was smashed up a bit and he was taking pictures for his damage report for the management at our shop. i get him to follow me back to the dear because i wanted to check on her to make sure she wasnt still alive and suffering. she was a young female and she was indeed dead. head trauma. probably died instantly. so i was thinking of taking the dear home for the meat. problem is ive never butchered a dear before and i was late getting to my first customer.. i was in the work van.. i didnt have a tarp or anything. my coworker was very much not interested. we ended up leaving her.
when i got home today i watched some youtube videos about butchering dear and it looks super easy. this is one of those things i need know how to do. i really regret not figuring out a way to take the dear with me.
but the other thing is, later on i was talking to another coworker about what happened and expressing my lament for not taking the dear for the meat. he said that roadkill deer isnt good because the adrenaline ruins the meat and it may have burst the intestines spoiling the meat and the meat would be all bruised up. this all sounds dubious to me. and i hate the idea of letting any animal go to waste. i guess other critters will get a meal out of it but i could have packed my freezer with awesome fresh venison.
anyone have any thoughts on all this? or thoughts on how to spot how fresh some roadkill deer is? i see a lot of them around here. its probably illegal to pick up but im in rural Oregon.. i dont think the sheriff department cares much about that sort of thing.

patrick
 
jimmy gallop
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contrary they do care about it and it probably is against the law . as it is in most states.
but as far as the meat being bad for any reason only that part that took the blow would be damaged and my chickens or dogs like it.
most states you are suppose to report this but if you hit it they might make you pay for it so don't.
but I wouldn't want to get caught picking one up either hefty fine.
 
patrick mort
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I figured they wouldn't care because everyone around here hunts.. I went and looked it up. According to oregon fish and game
"Under Oregon law, the only people who can keep roadkill are licensed furtakers, and only for animals that are classified as furbearers (bobcat, gray and red fox, marten, muskrat/mink, raccoon, river otter, beaver). Some of these furbearers can only be taken at certain times of the year; licensed furtakers need to check regulations for those dates.

Game animals like deer, elk, bear, cougar, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goat that are found as roadkill may not be kept by anyone, including licensed hunters. It’s not a legal method of hunting. This law is meant to discourage people from hitting a game animal with their vehicle in order to keep the meat or antlers. (Oregon wildlife regulations state: “No person shall possess or transport any game mammal or part thereof, which has been illegally killed, found or killed for humane reasons, except shed antlers, unless they have notified and received permission from personnel of the Oregon State Police or ODFW prior to transporting.”)

The exception to the above rules are unprotected animals, which can be picked up by anyone. Examples of unprotected animals include coyotes, skunks, nutria, opossum, badger, porcupine, and weasel."

I had better be very sneaky unless I've got myself a nice fat nutria!
Do you think 24 hours is too long for an animal to sit?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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patrick mort wrote:Do you think 24 hours is too long for an animal to sit?


Depends on the weather.

In the dog days of July-Mid September absolutely.

In the relatively cool weather I've been having here the past two days, it's possible but a bit sketchy. Trust your nose and if it seems to be going bad reserve it for dogs/chickens/pigs.
 
R Ranson
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I've never processed roadkill but I know some who do. I do however home process livestock, so I know a bit about butchery. I'm glad to see you're eager to learn and to honour the animal by using it to sustain life.

Before we get into the meat of it, there are some safety and health issues to consider. This is not just roadkill, this is any meat. In the end, it will be up to you to make the decision how you feel about continuing. I think it can be very worthwhile... but you're the one who will end up eating it, not me, so it's entirely on you. No pressure.

External parasites - these will vary depending on where you live. Where I am, my biggest concern with deer is ticks and tickborne diseases.

Internal parasites are also something to consider. There are some pretty nasty ones, but again this depends on your area. Most hunters I know, know how to check for this. Cooking well is another guard against these... but not always. Some of these are deadly to humans, so it's probably a good idea to learn about them. However, if they were as dangerous as all that, humans would be extinct by now, so there must be a way to do this safely.

Illness - As you don't know the health history of the animal, dig out the liver (careful not to puncture the little sack of green stuff - bile) and examine it for signs of illness and parasites. My thoughts are if the liver doesn't look healthy, then walk away. Study up on butchery so that you can be prepared for next time.


In a home setting, the first thing we do is to encourage the blood to flow out of the animal, usually by hanging it upside down and cutting off its head (this is after it's met a kind and gentle end - that's very important to me). Next, we remove the skin and organs. My hunter friend removes the organs but leaves the skin on for transport. Whichever you choose, the blood, organs and head (eyes and brain) will be the first to spoil. These we process the first day.

The carcass is wrapped IN CLOTH or paper to prevent the flies getting to it, then put in the coolest place we have to go through rigour. In the summer, this takes about 6 hours or overnight, in the winter it takes up to three days. If I had a cool place to store the meat, I could hang it for a few weeks to mature. Temperature is key at this stage... what is acceptable by modern standards is very different from historically normal ones, so you'll have to make your own decision there.

You've got the carcass, you have the skin off, next is to inspect it for damaged. Damaged meat tastes terrible and spoils easily. I think there are also health concerns but I never bothered to find out. Damaged meat removed and all you are left with is food. No matter how you cut it up, what you are left with is food. Failing everything else you could just make stirfry or sausages. Keep them big for nice juicy roasts. It's up to you. Since I know how to cut up a goat or a sheep, I would probably just do the deer the same way.

Adrenaline is going to make the meat tougher and taste different. This is one of the reasons why at home I demand a gentle end. Hanging is often used to counter this.


There you go, a bit of warning, a bit of encouragement. The rest is up to you. Let us know how it goes.

Of course, since this is your first time, you could simply cut off a leg or three and bring it home to experiment with.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I think it depends on the state game laws, whether or not it's legal to pick up road kill, in some states, eg Montana, it's OK. Before anyone goes looking for road kill, or "accidentally" hitting a game animal with their vehicle, better check on the law in your state, province or country.
 
R Scott
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And some states have "salvage tags" that the game warden or sheriff can give out for road kill, so you can legally harvest it. Our sheriff keeps a list, you can sign up to be on the call list and they will call when they have a fresh accident and you can legally get the roadkill for meat. It keeps the scavengers in check and feeds people.
 
Alder Burns
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I've made many a meal from roadkill deer and also what we call "hunter scrap"....where hunters take the hind legs and backstraps, or sometimes just the head to mount; and leave the rest by the roadside in some remote area. One time at least I found one still warm, and most of the other times were in cold weather so the animal was chilled through pretty quickly. Any sign of bloat or bad smell and I would leave it. Usually I would bring home the whole animal if I could, and whatever I didn't want would go to the dogs, the chickens, the soldier flies, or the compost.....Mostly I pressure-can to preserve the meat, which involves long cooking which will help with parasites, etc. Given the way a lot of mainstream commercial meat is handled before and after slaughter is a good way to keep safety issues in perspective.
 
Elmira Rose
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hi patrick, glad to see your interested in taking part in a great american past time. I have eaten a lot of roadkill deer at this point over a hundred or more. I've also dined on other roadside delights. The short of my advice would be go snatch that deer up right now! Disclaimer: me and some friends once got a 400 dollar fine for possession of roadkill deer in oregon.
The reason I say that is there's probably going to be some meat salvageable. Another good reason is if anything you will learn about butchering. I would also like to point out that if the deer is smelly that doesn't mean that all the meat is bad. Often people will age a dressed deer for up to two weeks. A little bacterial tenderizer.
As far as your question of how to spot freshness of the deer. There are some guidelines I follow. probably the most important is rigor mortis, if it has it your golden. See once the rigor is gone that means things have started to rapidly decompose. I not talkin' just a stiff carcass but a really stiff carcass. try pulling the legs apart if its hard to do and they don't just flop around its pretty fresh. This is something you'll tune into more over time. Another is the eyes get cloudy which means its probably not very fresh. One more guideline is checking the stomach and in between the hind legs to see if there is any green coloring. Although this can happen rapidly if it got hit in the gut. Having said that people the world over have commonly fermented or aged meat. Interior Alaska folks eat the stomach contents of caribou. I sometimes find deer that looks a little far gone and I don't want to deal with the whole carcass. I just cut out the back straps or cut off a honch. If your like most people eating meat like this can be an aquired taste, if so just grab the freshys.
As far as health risks if you cook the meat you will be fine. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. good luck.
 
John Weiland
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@Elmira R: "... If your like most people eating meat like this can be an aquired taste..."

The one time I had venison this way it was from a recently dead deer in a cold slough, so the body had remained chilled for possibly 1-2 days.  As I was younger and had a less-experienced palate, the gamey flavor (?) of the meat was rather off-putting, but not intolerable. I did not see reference to this article (linked below) in scrolling through relevant categories here on the forum, so just putting it here for information and possible discussion.  It's interesting that so much of our (Western) history focuses on "Man the Hunter" instead of "Man the Scavenger"....

"...Specifically, Pobiner’s study results indicated that, even after the other large carnivores had their complete fill of the prey and left the carcass to the elements, there would have been enough meat in the scraps to provide a decent meal for a scavenging hominin afterwards. In other words, early humans could have made a living as passive scavengers.  “Part of the criticism of the idea of a scavenging niche is whether there would even be enough meat on a lion kill worth scavenging, especially "passively" scavenging—waiting for the lions to be completely finished rather than chasing them off their kill in "active" or "confrontational" scavenging. My research answers a resounding "yes" to that question.”..."

-- http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-01012015/article/study-lends-new-support-to-theory-that-early-humans-were-scavengers
 
Alder Burns
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I have read a fairly detailed study involving not only scavenged meat in human prehistory, but bone marrow in particular.  This is extremely high in fat (a scarce item in much of human prehistory) as well as protein.  It is inaccessible to most other scavengers, but ancient humans wielding large rocks, etc. could get to it.  Being more or less sealed up in the large bones would give it some lasting power against microbial decay as well..... I believe the paper I read said that large-bone marrow would still be present and edible even when vultures and jackals had finished off whatever they could find.
 
R Wood
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It is highly likely that they were both scavengers and small game hunters. Not to mention the fact that we were eating invertebrates millions of years before eating larger animals.
 
R Wood
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Still on topic, I just finished off the last of a road kill deer last night. It had aged for about two days before I butchered it last winter. This was a Tennessee winter, so it was about sixty degrees those two days. Still tasted great!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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patrick mort wrote:“No person shall possess or transport any game mammal [...] unless they have notified and received permission from personnel of the Oregon State Police or ODFW prior to transporting.”)


So you call up the game warden, and say, "Hey, there is a road-kill deer out on Highway 165, near the intersection with 10700 South. May I salvage the meat?" It helps if you have talked with the game warden ahead of time... When I was growing up, our game warden was basically operating a food pantry using road killed deer.




 
Su Ba
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Here in Hawaii, roadkill can be claimed as long as it is not a protected species. At least, that's what I was told. I haven't personally looked into the laws. People around here routinely pick up pigs, goats, and mouflon that have been hit. As a result, one almost never sees them lying on the road or shoulder. Yes, we eat them here. No problem as long as they're fresh kill.
 
Marco Banks
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Years ago, I remember reading an article about a family in Indiana (I believe) who were working in Haiti and they had a baby brought to them by a mother who couldn't care for it.  She abandoned the child with them, and they fell in love with the baby and decided to adopt it and raise it.  Well, one thing led to another, and over the years, they continued to receive these abandoned children until they had about 15 of them.  They returned to the United States with their massive family (two biological children, and then all their Haitian brothers and sisters).  Their family returned to supportive small-town community and church that helped them any way they could.

Anyhow, one of the details I remember from that article was that the local police, highway patrol, and highway crews all kept this family's phone number handy, and would call them day or night when a road-kill dear was reported.  The dad would jump into a truck and get out there to gut the dear and bring it home ASAP.  I remember the line from the article: "I make the best road-kill stew you've ever tasted." 

I loved that.  Such a great story of redemption: both the Haitian orphans and the car-harvested deer.

Massive deer populations are a problem in many places where hunting and natural predators are not adequate to hold deer populations in check.  Highway crews pull killed deer off the road nightly.  It's a shame that such animals are usually just hauled-off and dumped.  A butchered and dressed deer will yield anywhere from 35 to 60 lbs. of meat.  That would feed a lot of people.
 
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In Arkansas you are supposed to report the accident or found carcass to Game and fish, when the officer arrives you can ask for the meat but most of the time it is taken by G&F and distributed to those who don't have enough food to eat.
In California it used to be that the road kill would most likely end up at a prison.

I know a few people here that have struck deer, demolishing the vehicle and the G&F allowed them to keep the carcass.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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