Vehicle venison: a roadkill philosophy

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A man from Duluth, Minn., Whom I know was returning from the Twin Cities recently when he came across a car stopped on the side of Interstate 35. The man from Duluth thought he should stop and see if he could offer help.

What he found was that the other driver had struck a deer – a large eight point buck. The crash had occurred in the height of White Tail’s mating season – and the driver’s car had been damaged beyond handling. The driver did not have a working cell phone, so Duluth’s man called law enforcement for him.

No surprises there. This is what most of us would do for a fellow citizen in distress.

Once the driver had squared off, my acquaintance asked the following logical question: “Do you want the deer?”

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The hapless driver had seen enough of this deer and didn’t want the money, he said. It was good news for the Good Samaritan of Duluth, who had called me to tell me this story and to extol the virtues of roadkill.

Turns out he’s a cool death connoisseur on the road.

“I have a tarp in every car,” he said.

He thinks a lot of us here in the north are struggling to miss the bounty of road casualties.

I am okay.

It’s not like we are scouring the ditches looking for bumped white deer. And, honestly, you wouldn’t have to hunt hard: just look for crows and eagles.

But many of us would stop to see a deer killed on the road, or even a small game. I remember walking past a grouse to the north one day and deciding about a mile down the road that I had to go back and pick the bird up. By the time I turned and turned around it had already been picked up by another opportunistic pilot. There’s a lesson here: Quickly listen to your inner road killer voice.

My road kill-seeking acquaintance thinks embracing the gift of roadside roasts and chops says a lot about us as people.

“I think that says we’re practical and we don’t want things to mess up,” he said. “Of course one of the hindquarters is trashed. So instead of having 50 pounds of meat, I’ll have 35. I’m going to feed my family 20 meals.”

He always respects the rules when purchasing his roadkill. He contacts law enforcement authorities to obtain permits for his take-away game.

I have another friend who was driving across South Dakota this fall to hunt pheasant. Three wild turkeys attempted to cross the road in front of his van. Only one succeeded. My friend stopped to claim the other two. I suspect his family had a good Thanksgiving.

For the Good Samaritan in Duluth who claimed the I-35 dollar, using the road is more than an opportunistic way to acquire free calories.

“It’s honoring the animal,” he said. “It honors our relationship with the environment. It’s an eight point dollar, and he’s dead. It shouldn’t be just a car repair.”

Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoor writer. Contact him at (218) 723-5332 or [email protected] Find her Facebook page at facebook.com/SamCookOutdoors or her blog at samcook.areavoices.com.

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