Can I eat it? Roadkill edition
November 25, 2019 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Is it Safe to Eat Roadkill? (Live Science) Yes, but approach with common sense and knowledge of state regulations. "If it's summertime and that deer has been sitting on the highway — let's just say for more than like 10 or 15 minutes — I would be super leery of it," Meier said. posted by not_the_water (22 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in college, my friend and I hit a deer with his truck. We pulled off to the side of the road to assess the damage (truck dinged, deer dead).

A police officer came by. He stopped and made sure we were okay. Then he commented, "that's a good clean hit on that deer." We nodded, like we knew what he was talking about. About thirty seconds passed, then the officer cleared his throat. "So, do you want it?"

We did not want it and we're frankly shocked that he asked. We said "it's all yours" and we drove off. I imagine the officer then tied the deer to his squad car and headed back to the station to whip up some venison stew.
posted by Gray Duck at 1:57 PM on November 25, 2019 [16 favorites]

Ella Jacobson on moose roadkill salvage in Alaska. (Note: includes pictures of moose meat being processed.)
posted by metaquarry at 2:17 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't know why my brain went to, "If you hit and killed a dog - presumably not someone's pet, just for the sake of argument - would it be OK to clean, cook and eat it?"

but it did
posted by Chuffy at 2:20 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks to North Woods Law, I know that in Maine, at least, it would be considered poaching to take an animal that you hit with your own car, even accidentally. The animal in those cases would be taken by the game wardens to the nearest tagging station, then processed and delivered to a local food bank so it doesn't go to waste. The law varies by state, though, as with most hunting laws.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:21 PM on November 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

musical accompaniment
posted by supermedusa at 2:29 PM on November 25, 2019

Safety issues aside, bruised meat does not taste very good. I'd probably discard anything right around the impact site.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:04 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I live in Maine, and you could probably ask for meat and/ or hide, but, yeah, unless you have a hunting permit, you can't legally be in possession. Most judges would likely not fine you much, though. Most deer and moose harvested by vehicle accidents will be donated to food pantries.
posted by theora55 at 3:14 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

In Pennsylvania, if you hit a deer with your car and want to keep it, you call the game commission within 24 hours and get a permit. It's no biggie and a bunch of people do it every year. See here.
posted by which_chick at 3:25 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Once upon a time I was volunteering at the site of a Rev War reenactors' encampment when a deer was hit outside the site. They knew it was fresh based on when it appeared so they called the RI Department of Environmental Management and got permission to take it. Lots of experts, including some experienced campfire cooks, produced a delicious venison stew which was served for supper to reenactors and museum volunteers. I guess that was an extreme example of "back to basics".
posted by Botanizer at 3:37 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hit a deer a couple of years ago, and I really wanted to bring it home but I couldn't imagine where I'd cut it up (I don't know the English word). This year, my brother hit one right outside his home, and instantly called his hunting cousins to help him. So he has a full freezer now.
From a legal point of view, my brother had the right to the deer because it landed on his land. I hit "my" deer on a state road, who would then be the owners of the animal, but in practice you can sometimes make a deal with the district. If I had just put it in the car, no one would ever have known.
I feel it has become a bigger problem because there are so many deer out there now, many times more than 25 years ago. You have to be very careful morning and evening. The reason it went wrong for me back then was that the road was covered snow and ice, so both hard braking and veering would have been dangerous.

Today I almost hit a fox, but the other side of the road was empty, so I just swerved over. And in good news, yesterday there were partridges on the road. They like roads which is bad, but I haven't seen any in my neck of woods for decades, so I almost stopped to take pictures.
posted by mumimor at 3:50 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Cars make us dumber all the time.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:03 PM on November 25, 2019

Back when I lived in rural Missouri a fawn dashed in front of my truck and I hit it at about forty miles per hour. I had tried to brake. I assumed that the spotted creature was dead, but in my rear-view mirror I saw that it had lifted its head, but its legs were obviously broken. I turned around, drove back, and killed it with a tire iron.

I headed for home, but it occurred to me that I had left some fresh meat back there. I drove back, loaded the dog-sized deer into my truck, then took it home and butchered it. Never did tell my kids that we had been eating Bambi!
posted by Agave at 5:11 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

There are quite a few states where I wouldn't be comfortable eating road-killed deer because of chronic wasting disease, a prion-associated brain syndrome which seems to be spreading around the country and afflicts ~20% of the deer population in some regions.

As far as I know there are no documented cases of transmission to humans, but squirrel monkeys have been able to be inoculated with it, and the Wikipedia article behind the link mentions something I never saw before, that in 10% of cases, no prion can be detected, raising the possibility that the prion isn't causing the disease, and without the prion, I'm not sure how it would be diagnosed in a human who had it.
posted by jamjam at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

When I was in Louisiana I nearly killed myself trying to run down all the ingredients for a gumbo.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

We did not want it and we're frankly shocked that he asked.
I must have misread the post—you killed a pedestrian and he asked if you wanted the carcass? If the state law says you can have the deer (it does in the two states I’m familiar with), he was doing you a solid by asking.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:42 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hit a deer last year & the second question everyone asked (after "Are you OK?") was "So did the sheriff give you a deer permit? Are you having venison for dinner?" (The answer was no, it bounced off the front corner & kept on running. Still did nearly $5000 worth of damage to my truck, though.)
posted by belladonna at 6:42 PM on November 25, 2019

I imagine the officer then tied the deer to his squad car and headed back to the station to whip up some venison stew.

We hit a deer one Christmas Eve and, where my mom lives, the game warden will collect it for the food bank. But two guys in a Toyota Corolla pulled up, asked if we were okay and then asked if they could have the deer if we didn't want it. They presumably tied it to the roof as a Toyota Corolla is not a large car and this is not a small deer.

Safety issues aside, bruised meat does not taste very good. I'd probably discard anything right around the impact site.

Apparently, my mom was advised when she took the car to be repaired, the trick is to soak the bruised meat in water so the blood comes out.
posted by hoyland at 4:29 AM on November 26, 2019

I know at least one big cat rescue that accepts donations of roadkill deer — but they do ask that it be reasonably fresh. They explain that the tigers don’t care so much, but the humans who have to butcher the carcass would prefer not to work with rotting meat. I feel like this is fair.
posted by snowmentality at 4:48 AM on November 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

When I hit my moose, in the days before cell phones (not that there'd have been reception on Rt. 16 in Northern New Hampshire), it took about 30 minutes for a cop to arrive. Shortly afterwards a guy in a big ol' pickup truck showed up, jumped out of his truck and said "can I have it?" He'd been listening to his police scanner at home when he heard about the moose. The cop checked his ID and, after asking me if I wanted the moose, told the man the it was all his.

I was still kind of shaken up by the accident, and the guy started tell me what I should have done when I hit the moose, in order to preserve the meat in the best manner possible. I was doing 50mph and the moose came out of nowhere, I never saw him until the second I hit him, but this guy thinks I should have been thinking about proper meat tenderization.

He was excited though, he assured us the moose would be in his freezer by the morning, and that I'd just fed his family for a year. If he were a little less erratic-seeming, and if my truck was still driveable, I might have arranged to get some steaks from him.

Before long a tow truck arrived on the scene. The cop talked to the driver for a bit, and the driver got into the tow truck and backed up... not to my car, but to the moose. They used the tow truck to haul the moose up on to scanner dude's pickup truck. He thanked us for the bounty and drove off. Only then did they tow my truck away.
posted by bondcliff at 6:45 AM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

Once we saw a deer struggling at the side of the road in the Colorado mountains. She had been hit and was not going to make it. We turned around to return to the bar we had just passed to report it to the bartender. Several men with guns in their trucks hopped off their bar stools to finish her off. I don't how they decided who did what and who got what, but I'm pretty sure no one thought much about the law. It probably wasn't even hunting season, come to think of it.
posted by kozad at 7:30 AM on November 26, 2019

I think in the UK it is illegal to take and eat a deer you hit yourself, but OK for someone else to.
One of the roads I used daily for for years ran through a regular deer route and collisions occurred quite often. I kept the local game shop well supplied with Venison as well as enjoying it myself.
posted by Burn_IT at 8:38 AM on November 26, 2019

I've eaten roadkill deer. I grew up in Iowa, and my brother hit and killed a deer once. We were near the farm of a family friend, and once we got the all clear from the state patrol he picked it up and butchered it. My best friend's dad was a former chef and requested the tenderloins, so I drove them over to his place and we shared them for dinner.
posted by jomato at 9:18 AM on November 26, 2019

« Older Mammoth tusk gold rush   |   Nineteen days later: How gay are you? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments