I Eat Roadkill. Roadkill is Real Food.

No, really, I mean actual roadkill. I understand that there's a taboo surrounding found meat. But here's the thing - roadkill animals aren't dirty or gross; they are just deer, they are just elk. The animals that turn up as roadkill are wild and grass-fed, and lived natural lives right up until their unfortunate end. It is the highest quality meat. Oh, and did I mention that it's free? In my book, that's a combination that can't be beat.

Thanks to roadkill, we have a freezer full of the finest wild meat - tender steaks, roasts, stew meat, burger, and sausage. Sometimes, if we are in a hurry or unprepared to harvest an animal, we only take the backstraps. In the elk pictured, that added up to over 20 pounds of premium tenderloin. If we're able to take the whole animal, little goes to waste; the parts damaged by impact go to the dogs and cats. The last deer that we got (pictured with red bowl), only the legs were usable. Even so, we were able to put away about 20 pounds of meat.

Before you pick up roadkill, contact whatever office issues fishing licenses where you live, and find out the laws in your area, including how to obtain a permit, and which animals you are allowed to collect. In our area, we have 48 hours from the time we pick up the animal to obtain a permit from either a Department of Wildlife officer or a law enforcement officer. We usually get ours from the sheriff's department.

Use common sense when utilizing roadkill. Be knowledgeable about, and obey, the laws in your area. And most importantly, if an animal smells rotten, don't eat it. Also, take into consideration where the animal grazed. Our roadkill has lived and died in the mountains, having grazed on its natural habitat. But if you see an animal outside of a corn or soybean field, it's likely to have eaten those genetically modified crops.

Treat roadkill as you would any game. Don't save bruised meat, and make sure all meat is clean of hairs, as both will impart a strong flavor. If an animal looks young, it will be quite tender and perfect for grilling and other quick-cooking techniques. But if you take an older animal, it's meat will likely have to be tenderized, or used in a braise or stew.

If you can overcome negative perceptions surrounding roadkill, you can partake of high quality, wild, grass-fed meat. Keep in mind that the game meats which you can purchase at the grocery store have been farmed. So if you choose to eat roadkill, you will be eating meat as it was meant to be, not a commercial product.

Have a convinced you? Are you ready to cook up some roadkill of your own? Check out my recipe for always-tender deer peppersteak.

This post appears as a part of Real Food Wednesday. Please click the link to read more posts from people who have benefited from eating eating real, traditional foods.

Comments

  1. That's awesome! If I lived in a more rural area and was knowledgable (or knew someone knowledgable) about butchering, I'd be all over it. Very clever.

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  2. I never see deer on the road, only dogs, cats, possums, & raccoons. Even if I did see a deer, the weather here is just too warm (even though it's getting into the teens Friday night!) to trust anything on the side of the road. Good for you though!

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  3. this sounds like a "true confession"-- I love it. This is so something I would do, if only I didn't live in southern california, where our only roadkill are pets, skunks and possums. But I love the idea!

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  4. My husband did this once a few years ago. A friend was driving in a mountainous area and hit a deer. He came to her rescue (her vehicle was not drivable) and as a hunter, felt it would be a waste to leave the animal. We had venison steaks for dinner that night!

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  5. We're lucky to live in a mountainous area where nights are chilly well into the summer. As long as the overnight temps are under 40, I'm comfortable collecting in the morning.

    Chris - It really is a shame to let good meat go to waste. We've actually found that officials are quite happy to see roadkill used as food.

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  6. Awesome & informative.

    I shoot my own and always seem to arrive a little late on the roadkill scene, but maybe I'll stop and stiff from now on. I'm all about the free meat!

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  7. It never hurts to stop and sniff! Every time we end up with a backstrap, I can't help but think what it would have cost in a store or restaurant, or even just paying for tags.

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  8. Yes, backstrap is much tastier than tag! I've had to eat a few of those. Fiber is overrated ;)

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  9. And darn it, those tags always get stuck in my teeth anyhow!

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  10. Wow that's pretty cool! Too bad we don't have deer around these parts :o)

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  11. Deer is my all-time favorite meat. I could eat it every day (with an occasional squirrel thrown in!).

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  12. I'm in awe. This year is the first year I have ever had deer, and it immediately became my favorite meat. I was kinda impressed with myself the other day when I turned left into a deer processor's parking lot and asked if they had any unclaimed deer. Scored by the way. But I feel like I have trainer wheel's on my bike and you are Lance Armstrong!! I showed your post to my husband and now he wants to move to Colorado. :-)

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  13. Wow...this is fascinating. As the daughter and granddaughter of Michigan hunters, it always makes me sad to see all of that meat lying on the side of the road (my husband and I now live in the mountain foothills of West Virginia near Pittsburgh). What a waste of excellent food! It bothers me so much...As you note, if nothing else...our collie and one of our cats LOVE venison.

    I'm going to send this article to my husband along with a strong "suggestion". Other than having my husband talk to my father and grandfathers about butchering, do you have recommendations as to where he could learn about it? He mentioned a few weeks ago that he'd like to go out hunting with my dad, but until then...I'll try to remember to pop back in after a couple of days. :) Thank you!

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  14. Butter, as I said to you previously, we do not have chances here on our island to get lovely game meat as you do, or specifically road kill, but I think it is so important for people who do have the potential to really understand that they are actually giving use to the flesh of an animal that would otherwise have died in vain from human intervention in their natural habitat. I applaud what you are doing! I was flipping through the channels today when folding laundry and I came across a program where Sarah Palin was butchering a caribou she had shot while hunting with her father. She was speaking about harvesting the land and providing healthy meat for her family as a way of life. I was actually rather impressed by her comments and to see her get her hands dirty. I know, if I had the chance, I too would be joining you in your quest for wild foraged game animals such as these. All the best! Alex

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  15. Patty - So, I'm assuming that since game can't be sold, you got the deer for free? Hmm, I didn't know about this method of obtaining meat. Awesome! Everyone I've ever known processes their own, so I forget that there are commercial opperations out there.

    Jen - I'm sure there are books or even youtube clips out there showing how to dress game. But really, you can't replace the value of having an experienced hunter show you. If you don't have someone to instruct you, steer clear of the mess of penetrating the body cavity. Take the backstraps, it's a lot of meat. You could also take the legs. Just peel back the hide, break the joint backwards, and use your knife to cut between the joint and free the muscle. Just think of it like breaking down a chicken. Same principle, just on a larger scale.

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  16. I had to pay the processing fee, which was $60 but it was almost 40 pounds of meat. Not as economical s your method, but way cheaper than the lower quality meat from the grocery stores.

    I have seen websites that sell game...must be legal in some places...or maybe not! :-)

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  17. Oops, sorry Patty, I meant to say hunted meat :) Good to know about that as a resource. It's also good to check craigslist and freecycle just before the hunting season opens, because a lot of hunters are cleaning out their freezers, and giving away the old meat.

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  18. Thank you, Butter, very much! I've always liked the backstrap best anyhow. Dad said he may head out hunting again soon, so perhaps he'll have a tagalong or two.

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  19. Jen - I bet he'll be thrilled to have you along. There's no better way to learn.

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  20. Thanks for the tips. Amazing how you even have to watch what wild animals eat (near GMO soy fields!). This is as grass-fed, free-range, local as you can get.

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  21. Absolutely, Belinda, this is what local eating is all about. These wild critters breathe the same air that I do. I like that.

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  22. One year, we got three deer just from road kill. My husband hit two and told the officer that he wanted to keep the deer, and the other was hit right by our house and we walked out and told them we'd take it. if you can get to them that fast, they are pretty much "all" good except the bruised and damaged parts. On ours, it was only the back leg and ribs. The busted gut was difficult to work with when it came to gutting it, but it was worth the freezer full of meat. I don't know what we'd do without deer hunting, roadkill, and raising our own hogs and chickens! It's good to know where our meat comes from and that it's not rinsed in ammonia, processed, or filled with fillers and nitrates. Plus being raise on venison, I LOVE it! I crave a good venison roast in the crockpot! Delicious!!

    Heather

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