I am not a cook. In fact, I tend to “burn” jello. But I’ve always thought it would be cool to write a cookbook entitled “Fresh Off The Grille….The Texas Road Kill Cookbook”. It would feature tasty cuisine, such as “Hot Squirrel” (no, not a squirrel in a negligee…but squirrel cooked in green chili peppers) and “Moose-wiches” (moose meat mixed with Manwich Sauce). I grew up in Illinois. And if you’ve ever driven through the Land of Lincoln, you will agree, it is the most boring trip you’ll ever take. No mountains, no scenery…it’s just flat and ugly (like my sister Karla). Nothing but corn and liquor stores…and liquor made from corn (after all, it does border Kentucky). White tail deer in Texas are hefty critters…but pale in comparison to that corn-fed buck from the Midwest. When I was a kid, I recall the night my Dad hit a deer head-on while driving home from work (i.e. the local pub). The deer came through the windshield and the antlers left a nasty wound on his forehead. After that, we had Venison for about 3 years (I hate Venison). He still has a Polaroid of it hanging from a tree…caped out…as if he shot it. Trust me, my Dad didn’t hunt or fish….unless he could do it from his bar stool.
So, what is the Texas law on road kill? Leave it. Call the local police or wildlife department to report it. Don’t pick it up. In Texas, it is illegal to pick up road kill. Why?? It has been killed by an illegal means (vehicles are not a legal means and method to hunt in Texas using that vehicle) and it was taken on a public road right-of-way (highway, street, avenue, county road, farm market road, etc.). Texas Parks and Wildlife strongly encourages all persons to avoid engaging in the collection of any animal life on public roads or the right-of-way of public roads and has a zero-tolerance policy on picking up dead animals on the highway: No time, no place, no way. No kidding.
In this economy, I find that a free meal may come in handy for a starving family. If there were road kill laws like that in Kentucky, lots of folks would probably starve…(’til their next welfare check comes in, that is). In some states, if you are unemployed, you don’t have to possess a fishing license to hook your dinner. On the other hand, I can see a wee bit of logic in making it illegal to take road kill. For one, to prevent folks from becoming road kill, themselves (i.e. being hit by a passing automobile…it’s called Natural Selection). And you don’t know if that animal is dead or just knocked out. Back in the 50’s, when my cousin was just an 8 year old boy, there was a bounty on Timber Wolves in the state where he lived. My uncle hit one with his car, put it in the trunk and headed to collect his bounty. On the way there, the wolf came to in the trunk and went crazy. My cousin was sitting in the back and said he thought the wolf was going to come through the back seat like a Werewolf! He said he had nightmares and wet the bed until he was about 35. Know how was he cured??…electric blanket! And, that animal may be ill or carrying internal parasites (although, I hear having a tapeworm is cheaper than Genny Craig). Rats should be avoided because of the risk of Weil’s disease. And, another reason???Yuk!!!!
But I am torn. Although wild game is not FDA approved, it is said to be naturally high in vitamins and proteins with lean meat and little saturated fat, and generally free of additives and drugs (unlike the Hooker you picked up last Friday night). Squirrel is said to be excellent when broiled on a stick over a camp fire …and even tastier when cooked under a bridge. Why? How would Iknow??I did a comparison between beef, squirrel and deer meat. Highest in calories? Beef. Highest in protein?Deer. Highest in fat? Beef (way higher). And cholesterol? Beef wins…hands (I mean hooves) down.
So tonight??What’s for dinner???Perhaps Creamed Coon Casserole or a delectable Turtleneck Soup.Or an all-time family favorite….Squirrel with Nut Sauce!!
But if you live in Texas…..Wendy’s…. because remember…. In Texas, Don’t Pick Up that roadkill.
Join us next week. And send in your comment and stories. We love to hear them.
(Daun Thompson is a comedienne and writer, filling in for Danny Keaton while he is touring the great Southwest and Pacific Northwest).