The most memorable piece of road kill I ever ate was a whitetail that my dad hit with his Jeep Grand Cherokee when I was 9 years old.
He was driving my two brothers and me home through the dark after bloodtrailing a deer that he’d killed with his bow. He stopped just long enough to cut the deer’s throat and add it to the load of venison that we already had in the back.
The lesson to me was clear: Meat’s meat — don’t let it go to waste.
Which is a good lesson to learn. I’ve eaten road kill my entire life, and one of my primary reasons is to make a point. The point is simple: As a hunter, I see value in the resources derived from wild animals, whether or not I’ve actually experienced the joys and thrills of harvesting them myself.
When a non-hunter sees me or hears about me utilizing an animal that would otherwise go to waste, it reduces any suspicions that they might have about my motivations as a hunter. They see that I’m resourceful, that I don’t shy away from unpleasant tasks, and that I don’t give a damn about absorbing any hick or hillbilly jokes.
Not that road kill is all about making a point. In fact, one of the most memorable meals I ever had was when I picked up a freshly killed deer from the side of the road when I was traveling to a party where friends were roasting a whole hog.
We parted the deer into bone-in quarters and packed them into the hog’s chest cavity. Then we sewed it shut with bailing wire. After eight hours of basting in pork fat, that venison was some of the finest tasting meat I ever ate in my entire life. I’m not sure how many people got their introduction to deer meat that night, but it was more than a few.
From then on, I imagine those people thought a little bit differently about the camo-clad guys they saw heading into the woods with bows and rifles every fall. Instead of seeing something strange and unknowable, they saw something that would eventually result in some damn fine eating.
Take a look at my buddy Skip Knowles putting these ideas into practice on the streets of Illinois: