About Me

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Deep South, United States
Consultant, inventor, mentor, chess coach,. Current projects involve No Till Farming and staving off blindness due to cataracts among other projects. I also do confidential ghost writing (without taking any published credit. My current blindness makes me put this on hold for a while. I should have one eye working again in about four months. Fact, fiction, all subjects considered. I have heard My daughter Jennifer is alive. I would love it if she were to contact me here. I understand she would like to know me. I have sent a message by circuitous route. I can only hope. My posted Email works as well. We have four decades to catch up on.

This blog has been up for more than a year. The intent was to generate dialogues about serious problems and ideas. It has been almost exclusively a monologue. I have not been looking for large numbers of participants.

I would be quite happy with a few dozen imaginative, creative, thoughtful and inventive people who wish to address serious problems and issues. If anyone has any ideas about how to attract such a talented group I will certainly pay attention. I am not as computer conversant as I would wish. Anyone who could help in this regard would find me receptive to sharing my skills in other areas.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Roadkill and Me

This seems to be my year for roadkill. A few months ago someone rammed a doe out in front of my place in the middle of the night. I went out when I heard the car leave, took the opportunity to remove the eyes because of my current interest in eye anatomy, and later in the morning, took the doe to a meat packer to cut up and wrap for the freezer. (Graphic details of the eye dissections in the archives.)

Last night, as I was driving home from the group chess lessons I teach, a young prong buck challenged my van for right of way. Although I did my best to defer to the buck, and probably avoided a thousand dollar collision, I nipped him on a hind quarter.

I got out, saw that the buck was conscious and had no apparent broken legs but he was unable to run very well and had little prospect for survival. I was in my tux and had only my hunting knife on my hip. Not a very humane way to do the buck in, and likely to splatter blood all over me. So I went the half mile to my home, shucked the tux for other clothing, grabbed a wrench and went back. Meanwhile the police had gotten a call on a hit and run and were speedily blue lighting as I was headed back. They were of course, looking for me. I proceeded back to the point of impact, parked, tracked the injured buck and nudged it into the hereafter with the wrench. The police logged the kill and hit the road as soon as they realized I was going to harvest the buck myself.

The temperature was just in the high thirties, nice weather for chilling the meat down. I dragged the dead deer onto the back of my wife's truck, took it home and bled it off into a big shallow pan. (Nice treat for the dogs and the cat colony. I try to waste nothing if I can help it.) Later in the morning I would take the deer to my meat packer and get it cut up for $70.

Well it didn't work out that way. The meat packer was closed until the 14th to go hunting. I went thirty miles to another packer. They were closed too. Everyone was off hunting deer. I don't know why everyone thinks they have to hunt early in the season when the most hunters are out. We haven't had a really hard freeze yet that I have noticed, so the deer were not really in rut to the extent that they get crazy stupid.

Anyway, now I have a hundred plus pound carcass. The local idiot butcher would not touch it. Even though I bled it within twenty minutes of its' demise, the abdominal cavity was in good shape and I saw no reason to gut it in the middle of the night, cold as it was.

But from the butcher's perspective, "If you don't gut it in the first two hours, the meat will sour!" What nonsense. He said he could lose his license if he was caught. He might have been right about that. It is very hard to fight arbitrary rules put in place for public safety.

So what would you do?

I'm really starting to grit my teeth now. I had other stuff on my agenda. Skinning a rabbit or a squirrel or a rattlesnake for dinner, or getting a chicken ready to roast takes twenty minutes or so. Chopping up a buck under field conditions, doing it nicely, and packaging it well for the freezer, is going to take all day. I was in no mood for this, but I was not going to throw away at least thirty pounds of good meat.

My wife also was in no mood to have the carcass in the kitchen. So here I am, a relatively sedentary sixty-seven year old man, preparing for an all day, reasonably strenuous job out in the cold. I gathered my wits about me, got the frame mattress support from a child's bed from the barn, and flopped the carcass on it. This would keep it elevated about five inches off the lawn and allow me to flip the carcass over with ease without getting any meat on the ground after skinning.

Then I went and gathered miscellaneous tools for the job and an old hassock to sit on so I would not be hunkering down on my heels for hours. I had my hunting knife, a keyhole saw, some tin snips and kitchen shears, a number 22 scalpel, and a Chinese claw hammer.

It was nice and windy and cold. Good for the carcass but less good for my hands and joints. I would have to take a break every half hour or so just to rewarm my knuckles.

Now ask yourself again, what would you do? What would be your order of procedure? Your methods? Just bleeding was easy. Even without stringing up the animal by its' hindquarters (I didn't have a rope). I just slanted the head down off the back of the truck, using the spare tire and a bungee cord to keep the animal from falling off. It was just a matter of punching the hunting knife in below the ear, right behind the jaw bone and pulling the knife out, letting the blood fan out into the pan. Of course, it goes without saying, you do this with the down side first. That way, while you are doing the top side the first side isn't bleeding all over you while you work to spring a leak in the second juggler vein.

Now, in my large outdoor colony of cats, I have a pair of very aggressive Siamese kittens named Powder and Puff who always get underfoot anytime anything smelling edible is around. They immediately came and started drinking the blood. Very funny in a way. They were trying to lap and growling at each other at the same time, as if there were not enough blood to go around. Lap, lap, lap, growl....

Pip, my Blue Heeler\Rottweiler bitch is barking nonstop about this unfairness. But over a pint of blood will go a long way. There will be plenty left. When the kittens were tight as a drum and could not lap another lap, I put the pan between the dogs to finish up. Then I went to bed.

Now, after my failure to find someone to do the work in the morning, I backed the truck over to the bed springs I had found. and flopped the deer onto it.

What would you do next? Hint: My dogs had long since finished up the blood and hadn't had anything to eat for many hours. Unlike the kittens, they are not full. They are voluble in making their wishes known. It is going to take me a while to skin the animal. Do I want to have all this noise? Of course not. So I remove the head and give it to the dogs, allowing each to grab an ear for a bit of a tug of war. Hard to bark with a mouth full of deer ear, Then I removed a foreleg right below the meaty part, tossing it to Cloud, who immediately let go of the ear he was tugging on, sending Pip tumbling triumphantly with the whole head to herself. Now, with both dogs happy, I can proceed with just the wind whistling in my ears.

Now I wanted to skin it out efficiently leaving little meat on the pelt so it will cure without much scraping and not get to smelling. It will make a nice cat bed for the colony. Our winter nights sometimes get down to the teens. The whole key here is to get it started right. I chose to start at the esophagus where there is virtually no meat under the leather. The tin snips worked best. My hunting knife was not at its' sharpest and I couldn't find my sharpening stone. In a few minutes, I had liberated about eight inches of esophagus, which I chopped off and threw to the dogs, who were now entirely silent and content.

Now I simply worked my fingers between the membrane and the pelt, slowly liberating it. Occasionally I used the scalpel to free up a section which was holding too tenaciously for my fingers. I took it slow and went in for a cup of coffee and to get my hands warm again. With this break, it took maybe an hour to skin it out.

While I was warming my hands, my son called to chat from California. Now he is quite an innovative and bright fellow. So it was odd to me when he suggested I get on the internet to get some directions on how to carve up a deer. Certainly this could provide me with some guidance and might cut my labor in some ways. But would I not just be following directions? And how likely is it anyway that I will find good directions on how to do it with a hunting knife, a keyhole saw, shears, tin snips and a Chinese claw hammer?

There is something to be said for discovery; the process of learning by doing. It is usually much more valuable than cooking by some recipe or getting the "how to" directions. Not only that, in following the directions of others, you may, uncritically, do silly things, just because this is the way everyone else is currently doing it.

Let me give you an example: the idiot butcher was absolutely convinced that under all circumstances, if a deer was not gutted within two hours, that deer was irreparably tainted and should simply be thrown away. The meat was "soured" as he put it. What nonsense.

Someone else, having gone to see him under exactly the same circumstances that I did, very probably would have been convinced just to throw away the carcass. There are no experts, folks. Just people who think they know more about something than most of those around them. And sometimes thinking he knows more than everyone, results in the "expert" whether he be a butcher or a doctor, knowing less and less. I will be saying much more about the "culture" of expertise in the future. I would call it a cult, but cults are all in the extreme minority. As soon as a cult attains sufficient numbers, it becomes an established faith.

The people who believe in the experts with little or no critical thought are certainly in the great majority and it is certainly a worldwide phenomenon. It does not bode well for our future. And I submit that expert nonsense is far more dangerous than amateur nonsense.

When I skinned the deer, the abdominal cavity stayed quite intact. I saw no evidence of internal rupture of the organs. I even made a little slit letting the bladder extrude a bit, but not puncturing anything. No bad smells. I stuck my hand in. and felt around the organs. No big clots. Nothing ruptured. everything pretty much where it was expected to be. I pull my hand back out. It smells just fine. So I am just going to go on with the harvesting of the meat without gutting the animal first.

As far as I know, no one ever does it this way. And maybe, as a general rule, there is good reason for this. After all, whether it is road kill or an animal which has been shot down, more often than not, there has been some damage to the internal visceral organs. And in warm weather, spoilage could start fairly quickly.

But that butcher had not really reasoned anything out. He did things the way he was taught, by rote. That was the only way to do it as far as he was concerned. And frankly, that is the way most "experts" learn their trade as well. They have not learned. They have been conditioned to be comfortable in their indoctrination. I would rather know two people who can think for themselves, and do it clearly, than a hundred experts who mindlessly adhere to the prevailing perspectives of their field.

Now as to the tools I used. It was just what was on hand. The hammer was Chinese as I mentioned. in breaking joints like the neck and the legs, both of the claws of the hammer got broken. I was left with nothing but the hammer head. It was closer to pig metal than steel. Another sad commentary in a bad year for Chinese products.

But getting back to the road kill. In this case, the gutting of the animal will be the last thing I do. In an abundance of caution, I will not harvest the liver and heart for my table. I will feed them to the dogs and cats. (Actually, if it smells good, I may still eat the heart. I like heart a lot.)

Anyway, by dark, I had removed and sliced and packaged about twenty five pounds of meat. It was really getting bitingly cold and the wind was picking up, so I wrapped the remainder of the carcass in a green tarp and went in to eat some venison Slum Gullion.

A Slum Gullion is like a Hobo Jungle coffee-can stew. A one pot meal with everything you can find, scrounge, borrow or otherwise hustle. Those who are to partake who have nothing to add need to have a few coins in their pocket for the chef, or need to be able to sing or tell a compelling story for their meal. When I was a youth on the move, I always carried a Bull Durham tobacco sack full of mixed herbs, coarse salt and cracked pepper. I learned very young, if you don't eat well, you can't live well.

But this particular Slum Gullion was not exactly Spartan fare. Venison, onions, carrots, celery, jasmati rice, wild rice, Shitaake mushrooms, a dollop of chili, half a chicken, some left over home fries, cracked pepper, various herbs, a dash of coarse salt, some potassium chloride for balance, a glug of Cabernet and a plop of steak sauce. Serve with a garnish of bone-dry cranberries and crusty multi-grain bread.


Sister Twister said...

I'm sure that the food taste better when you have to work that hard for it. Good job, and thanks for being a freethinker.

oldmancoyote said...

I find myself lucky enough never to have had the misfortune of hitting a deer with my car. Until only recently it was illegal to harvest the meat of road kill deer. I do remember dreessing out my first deer. Skinning actually went real well for me. The bullet had actually severred the spine just above the shoulder blades. No damage to any of the internal organs at all. I discovered that I had no good, sharp knives in the house(I was a young bachelor living on my own). So, off to the local Wally-world Saturday befor Christmas. Five minutes to find a set of knives and two and a half hours of standing in line. By the time I had finished I had actually managed to get just about every edible piece of meat.

I hadve never had anybody tell me if you don't gut it within two hours it would ruin. I was taught that it was a smart practice if the deer had beenn gut shot and then a good rinsing of the cavity was needed.

By the way, I am trying to go through your archives a little at a time.

oldmancoyote said...

Very interesting. Until recently it wa illegal here harvest the meat of roadkill. I learned to clean a deer by watching. My first try went surprisingly well if not a little time consuming.

As to gutting a deer within two hours, it's good advise for a gut shot. A good rinsing of the cavity would be in order as well. A chestr shot that doesn't damage the digestive track time is not as big of a deal as some would have you believe.

I am trying to read some of your archives as I have time. Thanks for listening, kind sir.

oldmancoyote said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anthropositor said...

Hi Coyote,
Don't know what state you are from. I'm in the bellybutton of the south. Here, the cops may try to get you to relinquish the deer. My guess is, if you do, it winds up on their table.

I only think it is unlucky to hit a deer if it totals your car or does serious damage. My wife had one come through her indshield and land in her lap about eight years ago. That was not cool. She dumped it on the shoulder and drove home. I jumped in my truck and rushed back to the spot as soon as I cleaned my Honey up a bit, but somebody had already snatched the deer. But I've nbeen lucky with two this year. One, somebody else hit at the corner of my front yard. The other is the one I clipped. I did no damage to the vehicle at all. That's no disaster. More like passing Go and collecting $200.00.

I'm glad you are finding the archives interesting.
I have got to hit the sack. Monday nights I teach a group chess class, and five or six hours of rapid or blitz chess really takes it out of an old goat like me. I had some close calls tonight, but didn't lose a game. But now, my neurons are really starting to fry.

anthropositor said...

The above deleted comment was not censorship of any sort on my part. It was the same posting, probably accidentally put up twice.

Not that I will never censor... it is just very, very, rare for me to do so.

If it is something I really feel disagreeable about, I am more likely to let it stand and post a response than to censor.

You may have seen some of my responses to other censorship elsewhere on the net in the archives here. It is rarely conducive to the free exchange of ideas and really worthwhile productive discourse.

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