ROADKILL, PICK ‘EM UP

Turn off the taps, extinguish all scented candles and pray you haven’t been seen, as that hanging carcass above your tub is, in fact, a felony. Wait a while. Once your street has fallen silent leave through the bathroom window, flee the scene… Or… Correct me, fine lady… By lifting the limp deer into the boot of your car did you in actual fact generously prevent its suffering? Convince me that that robust Muntjac did indeed have a breathless squeak left in it and welcomed your cosy car over the further pounding of oncoming traffic. Bless you! How generous! It died in peace alongside the de-icer, horse whip and wrapped that tarpaulin.

Tarpaulin? Horse whip? I smell blood sport on you! Hold off that ceremonious butchering and let’s take a look at your car. Crikey! I suggest that you do seize your escape, nose dive through the bathrooms mottled glass, as I doubt that crimpled bonnet is an old injury. Or that you are in the habit of spreading jam liberally across your headlights. Dam you Madam! The carelessness of the whole incident leads me to believe you swerved for Bambi and, having examined your mud flaps, wisely took it upon yourself to reverse and finish the job off. I concur it is never pleasant taking a stray hoof to the jaw as the prayed upon finds a little left, but to hell with you Mademoiselle your greedy mush would have deserved all it got!

Let’s speak plainly, as the lines are hazy on roadkill, is it illegal or just frowned upon? Should our accused flee the scene or continue the butcher? Well, the act of taking an animal killed by your very own wagon is widely considered to be illegal – many forums mumble in agreement – however ‘the survey says uh-oooh!’ Strictly it isn’t. If you didn’t deliberately kill the animal you cannot be prosecuted for poaching, as that was not your intention. We presume that this misconception is more of a cautionary tale, a moral story to deter Kevin’s ambitions of becoming a stalker by ‘accidentally’ unleashing his doughnut making ability on a herd of stags. So is it in actual fact fine to procure meat from the roadside? Well The Deer Act 1991 states:

It is a criminal offence to intentionally take, kill or injure or to attempt to take, kill or injure deer; or search for or pursue deer with the intention of taking, killing or injuring it; or to remove the carcase of a deer, without the consent of the owner or occupier of the land or other lawful authority.

‘Without the consent’ seems to be the incriminating line here, so to take the kill, killed or mangled without the permission of the landowner on which it lies is unlawful? The act goes on to clarify:

Where a person is charged with one of these criminal offences they will have a defence if he believed that he would have the consent of the owner or occupier of the land if the owner or occupier knew what he was doing and the circumstances in which he was doing it. It is also a defence where a person has other lawful authority to do it.

Perfectly clear, they further fumble to inform us that it:

Prohibits the taking or killing of deer unless it is done for the purpose of preventing the suffering of an injured deer.

So untangling the reason and reasonability in all that perfectly strung together verse it would appear that it is fine to take a deer if it is injured, fine to take it alive in order to prevent its suffering, but to take it dead by the letter of the law you are poaching, unless you have the permission of the landowner. Mmm… So it is illegal? Well joyously the Crown Prosecution Service serves to un-ridden our conscience by stating:

It is not a crime to eat animals that are accidentally killed on the road by a motor vehicle.

Arrr… so it’s undeniably fine to eat it but hazy as to whether the act of the gather is indeed poaching. Help! I turn to the beloved Tommy Cooper who’s mighty slapstick teaches us a lesson on the law. Mr Cooper during the filming of the much recommended ‘The Plank’ managed to escape arrest despite blatantly carrying a large plank along a pavement which under section 54 of the metropolitan police act 1839 is declared illegal. Taking this into consideration and not wanting to scare monger the manoeuvring of planks for all, I think the question of legality is of less concern than the likelihood of being prosecuted? It is ridiculous to prosecute somebody carrying a plank along a pavement with due care and attention, so sticking our necks on the line we would hazard a guess, it is highly unlikely, if done safely and with consideration, that the dragging of an undesired off the road will attract the attentions of the law or prosecution for poaching. That said if you are a wily serial killer who has deftly left no damming evidence, the unintentional act of poaching whilst hauling your lunch from a back road would gift the authorities with the perfect cause to detain you and search that deep freeze brimming with bodies, so best to get yourself to the butchers and spend a penny or two, you nasty shit.

The atrocity of murder aside Pic-nik offers no insurances that this information is binding and welcomes any professional opinions on the matter. Does the same apply for a badger, a bunny, a fox, wild fowl? If the removing is the tenuous area would it be wiser to munch down on the animal in situ?

Legalities resolved(ish) but not really, onto the gather and butcher of your free meat. The salvage and dissecting of Bambi is a mini excavation of your emotions. The first hole bored is a little eruption of euphoria as she is spotted from a far, this is quickly snubbed as you draw closer, as the scene pieces itself together, as you trace the splatter from the body to the dismembered head or finally resolve the ‘Rubix’ puzzle of the twisted torso. Bambi is a flighty animal that doesn’t get snared easily. So be aware, it is rare to find her complete, rare for her to have taken a blunt knock and have removed herself calmly to a lay-by to die cured in a bed of fresh herbs. She is predominantly found scattered across the hardcore with the added gauntlet of fast moving traffic.

Gauntlet! Another hole is excavated unveiling excitement, adventure, a game of snatch and grab, Frogger! But unfortunately without the super cool, as the actuality is you look sad and desperate. Be honest scrapping your dinner off the Tarmac is not a stylish escapade. A balaclava is a wise investment or any form of masking your identity, as you will be sneered at, tutted and pitied. Despite the fact you will be more than likely lifting a good value of meat, if pre-packed, into the rear of your car it is still, for the majority, a shaming practice. But thanks to the Hugh’s of the world it is on the increase, it is becoming more acceptable, but the passing Volvo transporting it’s 2.4 are not going to applaud your resourcefulness and believe me those carriers of 2.4’s are always poised to appear, as soon as you peel the hind legs from the tar and spill intestines over the bound grit they’ll trundle along.

Recovered from the depths of shame, embarrassment and ridicule and with limbs tucked in the boot – hopefully, wrapped up or at least safely sat on something less porous than a beach towel – the drawing to the slaughter is underway. The first journey is laced with paranoia… ‘Is a hoof hanging out the boot?’ ‘Have the council recently decided to prosecute the poaching of roadkill?’ ‘Why is that red car following me..?’ Transportation successfully negotiated and the paranoia reburied, then comes the wrangling of dear Bambi to the house. Let’s be honest however well wrapped, even rolled in a fair trade Persian rug, a dead body looks like a dead body. Be prepared for suspicion to raise up from the hood, as your neighbours will snoot, will pry and will judge as you struggle that deer to the place of quarter.

The quartering of Bambi is where the excavation of the soul climaxes, it is a sobering experience, a reality check for any meat eater, not that it is blood soaked but that yes Bambi is an animal. The first incision is odd, it’s horror muted by a reawakening of that encouragable school humour, as one is advised to cut out the arse hole. Arse hole!? Ha! It isn’t really all that funny, but a little smirk can be forgiven as the next task, the encircling of the genitalia has to be laughed at, as no living person really wants to empathise with that sensation, go there physically that is, so please do find humour in it then burn the School cap, rip out the pig tails and brace yourself as each cut after the riding of the cock is a very real experience.

Sssh. Composure people. As the blade glides down the length of the under belly to free the undesirable intestine and innards, in the handling the similarities between Bambi and your pooch are all too unnerving. The smiles and sniggers pass from that potty mouth quicker than they formed and as the intestine, liver, heart and array of other wonderfully coloured balloons of matter are pulled from the strung up pray… Gosh! The fragility of our own very being springs to mind and if you weren’t paying attention when that sorry rat was dissected in biology, or frog, or a puzzle was made out of the ageing anatomical model, then you might have missed that we are all full of a lot of stuff all delicately hanging in a cage of bone.

Climax reached and image reflected, as, like dear Bambi, we too couldn’t take the might of a hurtling lorry and finding yourself grovelling inside the strung up deer, it isn’t just the dog, cat or rabbit that springs to mind, it’s the living, the human. Ouch! The valuable lesson continues as the skin is peeled, dragged, raped from the carcass and each and every cut of meat is located and freed. As the hands deftly begin to move like that of a butcher and the soul of the animal is all but forgotten, just the quality of the meat bizarrely now becomes the only concern. With the closing of the excavation an appreciation of life hopes to raise to the fore but worryingly the violence of butchery is dulled and with the cleanup and packing of the meat the mind can only turn to the slapping of one’s thigh! ‘Phwoarr, she’s gonna taste good!’

Roadkill is inherently a poachers game, a scavenging act that is for the majority sneered upon, however, practised it is as close to the hunter-gatherer ‘of old’ one can get without a shotgun and it isn’t wanting for attitude as where else are you going to get a £30 loin of venison for nought!? Anarchy poachers!

NOTE: Pic-nik by writing this article does not recommend or condone the gathering or eating of Roadkill, we have no point of view on the matter and are merely documenting the practice. We would also warn that considerable knowledge of the animal’s health prior to death is vital before consumption.

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Words from Roadkill practitioner David Butler