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8 Rules of Eating Roadkill

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    8 Rules of Eating Roadkill

    Below is a fun and informative article regarding whether it is safe to eat road kill.

    The article provides eight things you should consider before eating road kill.

    Legal – it may not be legal in your state to eat road kill without a “tag”. Pursuant to New York Environmental Conservation Law § 11-0915, it is legal to salvage deer, moose, and bear if the accident is reported and a permit is issued. A permit can be issued to a person who was not involved in the accident.

    Impact Damage – ruptured organs may have tainted the meat.

    Clear Eyes – clear eyes likely indicate a fresh and healthy kill.

    Stiffness – if the body is stiff and the skin is “stuck” to the muscle, then the meat is not fresh.

    Bugs and Blood – the presence of fleas on a carcass is a sign of freshness because fleas will not stay on a cold body. The presence of flies could be a bad thing because they may have laid larvae in the wounds. Dark red blood is a sign of freshness. Puddles of blood means the carcass has been there a while.

    Climate and Weather – meat stays fresh longer in cold weather.

    Smell – a bad smell is a bad sign.

    Collection and Processing Tips – Be prepared. Carry a tarp so you can cleanly transport the carcass someplace else to field dress it.

    Should You Eat Roadkill? 8 Important Rules to Consider First

    If the thought of preparing dinner from a dead animal found in the road makes you squeamish, join the club. I personally find the thought revolting but then again, I have a robust pantry full of food for both the short and the long term, and currently do not feel compelled to eat roadkill of any type.

    That being said, should you eat roadkill? Are there situations were eating roadkill will become a necessity?

    Let us play “what if” for a moment. What if there was a global famine and no food coming down the food chain? What if your garden was producing vegetables but was sorely lacking in sources of protein? What if there was a second great depression and ordinary folks like you and I had no jobs, no money, and no food other than what we could forage?

    If that were the case, roadkill might start to look pretty darn good. That said, are you sure you really want to eat roadkill? Only you can answer that but my guess is that under the most dire of circumstances, the answer would be yes.

    Let us hope we never have to eat roadkill to survive, but if we do, my friend Todd Walker at Survival Sherpa has come up with 8 roadkill rules to follow before you even take your first bite. After reading this, you just might open your mind to eating roadkill in a survival situation.

    Manna from Motorists: 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow

    It’s practically a self-reliance commandment: Thou shalt not waste food.

    You won’t find these words on a stone tablet, but these 5 words are rock-solid advice!

    The smallest ripple in the industrial food machine can wreak havoc on food prices and availability. That’s one reason self-reliant types grow some, if not most, of their own groceries. Cultivating food independence is hard work, sweat-of-the-brow kind of stuff.

    You deserve an unexpected gift, a miracle of sorts. The roadways are the perfect place to claim your next free-range fur or feathered meal.


    Hardly! It’s the ethically thing to do out of respect for the animal victim. See Self-Reliance Commandment above.

    More questions swirl in minds of refined readers, followed by the inevitable…

    Why, I’d never eat from a ditch!!

    Here’s the thing, though…

    Roadkill is an overlooked secret survival sauce. You gotta eat to survive. Food costs money. Roadkill is free. Plus, it’s healthier than factory farmed animals injected with who knows what.

    How do you know if manna from motorists is safe to eat?

    If you experience a fender bender with Bambi or witnessed the crash, you know the exact time of demise. When you run across a potential meal on a road trip or daily commute,
    how can you be sure it’s safe to harvest? There are many variables to consider.

    8 Rules of Roadkill

    Follow these Roadkill Rules to help determine if food by Ford is safe to swallow.

    1. Legal Stuff

    Any fur-bearing animal or bird is edible. However, laws on harvesting roadkill or possession of protected species vary from state to state. Check out this interactive map to see if your state allows the collection of roadkill.

    In the Peach state, motorists may collect deer without notifying authorities. Bear collisions must be reported but you get to keep the bruin.

    Texas, California, and Washington are among the few states that prohibit roadkill collection. In Alaska, the Fish and Wildlife personnel collect reported road-killed animals and distribute to charities helping the needy.

    Check your state laws first!

    2. Impact Damage

    The point of impact determines how much meat is salvageable. My experience with broadside impacts are not good. Internal organs usually rupture and taint the meat. Not to mention all the bloodshot meat. As in hunting, a head shot saves meat.

    Tire treads over the body usually means a bloody mess. Squashed squirrel would require a spatula to remove from the asphalt and should be avoided.

    3. Clear Eyes

    If the eyes are intact and clear, the animal is likely a fresh kill. Cloudy eyes hint that the animal has been dead for some time (more than a few hours).

    Creamy discharges around the eyes or other orifices indicate a sick animal. If the eyes are gone, leave it alone.

    4. Stiffness and Skin

    Rigor mortis sets within a few hours of death. This is not a deal breaker depending on other indicators. The steak in the butcher’s glass counter has undergone the same process of “decay” or tenderizing.

    Pinch the skin of the animal, unless it’s a porcupine, to check if the skin still moves freely along top of the muscle beneath. If so, you’re probably okay. Skin stuck to the muscle is a bad indicator. If fur can be pulled from the hide with a slight tug, the animal has been deceased far too long.

    5. Bugs and Blood

    Fleas feed on the blood of warm blooded animals. Brush the hair on the carcass and inspect for fleas like you would on a family pet. If fleas are present, that’s a good thing. Fleas won’t stick around on a cold body.

    There’s usually blood involved when animals come in contact with 3,000 pound machines in motion. Blood all over the road may mean there’s too much damaged meat to salvage.

    The color of blood present should be a dark red, like, well, fresh blood. Dark puddles of blood have been there been there a while.

    Flies could be a bad sign. They lay larvae in wounds and other openings of the body. A few flies present isn’t always a deal breaker. A prior wound on a living animal may contain maggots.

    We had a live deer seek refuge in my mother-in-laws car port who had a broken hind leg from a vehicle collision which was infested with maggots. I approached her in an attempt to humanely dispatch her and put her out of her misery. Sadly, she gained her footing and disappeared through our neighborhood woods.

    In the hot, humid summers of Georgia, it only takes a few minutes for flies to zero in on dead stuff. Which brings us to our next consideration…

    6. Climate and Weather

    The weather conditions and geographical location are variables to consider. Cold to freezing temperatures is ideal – think… roadside walk-in freezer or fridge. Meat will decompose quickly in hot and humid conditions.

    One steamy August evening years ago, I was in my backyard and heard tires screech followed by a distinctive thud on a nearby road. I walked two doors down and found a freshly dispatched deer laying on the grassy right-of-way. That gift primed my freezer before fall hunting season.

    7. Smell

    This one is pretty obvious.

    If it has a putrid odor, leave it alone. You don’t have to be a TV survival expert to identify bad meat. Your old factory sensors will let you know… along with your gag reflex.

    Ever break the cellophane on a pack of chicken breasts you forgot about in the back of your fridge? Register that stench for future roadside foraging.

    8. Collection and Processing Tips

    Our vehicles are prepared with Get Home Kits. You may want to add a few items to it or build a separate Roadkill Kit. My kit is simple and includes:
    • Tarp
    • Surgical glovesIf you don’t drive a pickup truck, wrap large carcasses in a tarp and place in the vehicle for transport. Smaller animals usually go in a contractor grade garbage bag to get home.
    It’s common sense in my mind… Do NOT field dress an animal on the side of the road! It’s dangerous, illegal (hopefully), unsightly, and disrespectful to both animal and human. I’ve seen some really stupid and disgusting practices over the years from unethical “hunters” and idiots.

    If you’re not prepared to harvest game properly, stick with the supermarkets.

    Don’t practice slob self-reliance!

    Rant over…

    When processing wild game animals or fowl, (road-killed or not) always check the internal organs – heart, liver, lungs, kidneys – before going any further. Dispose of the animal properly (or report it to local wildlife officials for study) if the organs are discolored or showing yellow-greenish discharge.

    Again, use your sniffer. If it smells bad, it probably is.

    Below is the New York State “Roadkill Law”:

    New York Environmental Conservation Law § 11-0915. Disposal of deer, moose and bear killed unintentionally by collision

    The owner of a motor vehicle which has been damaged by unintentional collision with a deer, moose or bear shall be entitled to possess such deer, moose or bear under the following conditions:

    1. The accident is reported to an environmental conservation officer, a member of the State Police, a member of the sheriff's department in which the accident occurred or, if the accident occurred on lands under the jurisdiction of the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation, to an officer of the regional park police having law enforcement responsibilities on such lands, or to any police officer of a city, town or village located in the county of such accident within 24 hours thereafter.

    2. The officer shall investigate and, if he finds the deer, moose or bear has been killed or so injured as to require that it be killed and the damage has been done as alleged, he shall issue a permit to the owner of the motor vehicle entitling such owner to possess the carcass. Such permit shall authorize the owner of the motor vehicle to transfer the carcass to a designated person.

    3. Whenever the owner of such damaged motor vehicle declines to possess such deer, moose or bear, the officer may in his discretion, issue a permit to possess the carcass to any other party requesting such possession.


      I only follow one rule.
      1. Leave it.

      Give a man fire, and he stays warm for one night. Set a man on fire, and he stays warm for the rest of his life.


        Originally posted by BLAMMO!! View Post
        I only follow one rule.
        1. Leave it.
        I am not anxious to eat roadkill either. That is why I posted the topic in emergency management. That aside, I went to Pennsylvania recently, and the highway in Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania was littered with deer carcasses (as usual).

        It is a shame there is not proper population management, and the dead deer are left rotting on the side of the road for weeks.


          I mean, in an emergency situation I don't estimate there being a huge amount of roadkill. Obviously I could be wrong and hell yeah I'd consider eating it if I had nothing else.
          “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." - Benjamin Franklin


            There's ALWAYS a fresh squirrel around (Sorry Debbie)
            NRA Patron Life Member
            Caribou R&P Club Range Officer
            NRA RSO


              Mmmmm..... I've eaten road kill, it was gooood. A nice young doe.

              Of course we knew when it had only been hit about 20-30 minutes before and it was well below freezing. And it had apparently been struck only in the head, so there was no meat damage. We didn't follow none of those rules above lol. Someone shot it and tagged it. We checked the hunting regulations, it didn't say anything about the deer having to be alive when you shoot them.
              Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket.


                Here's some good source material on the subject....


                  Rule number 1. Don't eat something dead from the side of the fucking road!
                  Rule number 2. See Rule number 1.
                  Rule number 3. Screw it, it's your colon. Eat what you want.


                    Originally posted by 67Builder View Post
                    Rule number 1. Don't eat something dead from the side of the fucking road!
                    Rule number 2. See Rule number 1.
                    Rule number 3. Screw it, it's your colon. Eat what you want.
                    I guess it really depends upon whether it was something you hit, or something you came upon, an unknown amount of time later.


                      I ate road kill, an entire deer. Car in front of me blasted a deer. Deer went up in the air. 2 broken hips. Cop came, finished the deer, gave me a tag. Cop helped me load it, and I drove straight to the butcher. $80 later, I had a full freezer.