Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adventures in Roadkill

Our valley runs along side a river.  Steep sloping hills up one side, and the other, and a river that rushes its way noisily through the middle of it.  And the road, our road, that follows the river, with thick bush abutting the road for most of the trek.

On Monday morning, as Steve was driving home from dropping Corben off at daycare, a deer on her way from one place to another bound out of those bushes at a most unfortunate time, and met with the front bumper of Steve's car, sending her flying up and over the car and landing in the ditch beside the road.

When Steve stopped the car, and got out to check on the car and the deer, she was lying in the ditch, still alive, but clearly injured as she wasn't able to move. Since deer that are shot often bolt, and run for miles on the adrenaline of their injuries, it was clearly bad.

He quickly came home to try and find a friend (with a gun) to put this poor thing out of her misery.  A few phone calls later and we discovered that we couldn't actually shoot the deer, we needed to call the OPP to do it. (Otherwise any schmuck with a gun, outside hunting season, could claim to just be "putting the deer out of it's misery" for one excuse or another. It would be considered poaching if they were caught.)

To make a long story short, about a half hour later Steve came home, our friend Dan following behind him with an expired deer in the back of his truck.

Despite her unfortunate, untimely end, we weren't about to let her go to waste.

So all of a sudden we had a deer in our back yard that needed to be dealt with.  Gutted and hung. And me?  I've processed one rabbit in my life. One. But one more phone call and we had an experienced hunter in our back yard, showing us the ins and outs of gutting a deer.

Hardly the Monday morning any of us had anticipated.

A short time later, we had a gutted deer hanging in our yard.

On Friday night, with an impeding snow storm approaching, it was time to get the deer down from her perch, and deal with processing her.

Now, we live in an incredible community.  When we needed to haul a dead deer from the side of the road, and gut it, there were a half a dozen people that we could have called to help us, and they would have come. At the same time, if you've got a deer hanging in your yard, and you want to keep it for your freezer, then the mentality is you best get to work figuring out how to take care of that. There are lots of folks here happy to provide guidance and even a helping hand, but nobody is going to do it FOR you.  Put on your big girl Carharts, and do it yourself.

The job of butchering in this family seems to have fallen to me.

And because we wanted to keep the deer, not to mention the pelt, on Friday night I skinned and quartered* a deer, in our neighbour Kyle's garage (of course) for the first, but likely not last time.  (*I'm not sure why the call it quartering, because it's more like 6 pieces, but maybe that's too much math.)

It was seriously cool.

Luckily for me, this "road kill" deer was a good practice deer. Her pelvis was so completely shattered that the meat on the inside was pretty much a write off, so it was pretty hard for me to screw it up.

But I did it. And it was awesome. It's so wonderfully cool to see the inside workings of such an amazing creature.  How bone comes together, and how muscles run along the body.  Learning about cuts of meat and where they come from and why some are better than others. Not to mention walking away with a decent sized pelt.

Now, scraping and tanning the pelt is an adventure all of it's own, and a shitpile of work, a pile that I've decided to put off until the spring.  In the meantime the hide is rolled and bagged and frozen until I can give up a weekend to just sit and scrape. I'm looking forward to that too, it's going to take a ton of work and patience, but I have dreams of ditching giving the kids to the loving arms of their grandparents for the weekend, and sitting beside a smouldering fire for three days; cooking shit on the fire, drinking wine, and sinking my teeth into this beautiful piece of fur. (It's good to have a dream.)

So now, with a self-satisfied pat on the back, I can say that I know how to gut, skin, and quarter a deer. Put that shit on my resume, shall I? Thanks to my excellent teacher, Neighbour Jim, who only skinned his first deer winter.  But then he skinned his second.  And third.  Gifts from the Valley.

Who knew I, we, any of us was such a redneck?

And to the Mama deer, who was in such an unfortunate place at an unfortunate time, we are grateful for her - the lessons she brings, and the meat, and the fur, and we promise we won't let any of them go to waste. 

Self sufficiency. Living off the land.  Organic, free range venison at it's finest. These are all very, very good things that I've been dreaming of for a while.

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.



  1. You so impress me! I cannot imagine doing the same thing...but then again...maybe I can because it cannot be that much different than dissecting in a science lab....except for the blood part. :)

    But amaze me. You have found your place and you are living life on your terms. It is inspiring. I am determined to find a way to my place...and you are my role model!

    1. You're totally on your way to your own place! You've embraced life in the past years along side me, and you're rockin' it Mama! xoxo