Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Butchering Road Kill

Graphic images will follow.

After gutting, hanging, and skinning your meat, there's a few things you need to do a bit differently with road kill, or should be aware of, that you wouldn't do with something you killed to butcher yourself.

First of all, you need to assess the damages.  I did that here.  Then determine what is salvageable for human consumption.  You don't want anything with fecal matter on it, and you have to decide for yourself if it's worth cutting around a lot of road grime.

When you plan to butcher, you check the weather forecast.  You want a nice week of cool nights and mild days.  You don't want your meat to rot or freeze.  When you pick up road kill, you deal with whatever weather nature gave you.  Our nights are good right now, between 10°C and -3°C.  But our days have been a little warm, into the mid 20's. 

I butchered the first shoulder on the first day, because it fell off when I was skinning.  I butchered the second shoulder today (blade roast). 

You can see where I made the clean cut from the back of the bear, and where the shoulder was torn and damaged and covered with grime. 

Resist the urge to wash the meat.  Washing is not good for the quality, and will SPREAD contaminants to the rest of the meat.  Carefully cut thin slices to remove the contaminated areas.  Wash your knives and your work area repeatedly.  Keep cutting until you're sure that all of the meat is clean and fresh.   I use my fillet knife for this.

Next remove excess fat.  You can keep the fat, render it for lard or grease.  I didn't.  It went to the doggie stew pot.

You may notice some dark purple, black or brown spots after you finish trimming.  Don't panic! This doesn't mean that your meat has gone bad.  The animal had a traumatic death.  Think about how you'd look if you got run over by a truck.  Those are bruises.  Consider it tenderized and get on with it.

 Next, you'll want to remove the leg bones.  You can use the meat as part of the roast, a seperate roast, or stew.  This was a small bear, so I included the upper shank.  I cut the meat to the bone just above the 'elbow' joint.  Then cut along the edge of the muscle to the top of the 'arm pit'.  Cut the tendens and cartilage at the top of the bone and it will fall loose.  Then remove the rest of the meat around the leg bone by turning it over and cutting as close to the bone as you can.

There will be blood.  His heart was not pumping when his throat was cut.  The longer you hang your meat, the less blood you will see, but you will still see more blood than on a normal, planned, farm animal butchering job.

Roll the upper shank into the roast.  You can tie it with cotton string if you like.  Package and freeze.

The lower shank is cut from the bone the same way.  It can be used as a small roast, but since it is usually tough (a well used muscle), it's most often used for stew, sausage, or ground.  I chose stew.  Cut up into bite sized bits, packaged and froze.

The bones can be trimmed further, depending on your skill level and the quality of your knives.  The trimmings go into ground.  You can cook them down and make your own stock.  I use them for doggie stew.

If you think you'd like to try butchering some road kill yourself, and are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, but find the idea of picking up that carcass and tossing it in your car a little daunting, I recommend this cut.

The shoulder blade is attached only by muscle.  If your pocket knife is sharp enough to cut through the skin, simply lift the shoulder, cut underneath and all the way around.  Then you have a reasonable size piece of meat for lifting and transporting.

If your pocket knife isn't sharp enough- you might want to think about that.


  1. Was your father a butcher? I think you said he taught you. Or, was he just an avid game hunter? This was a nice lot of pictures, compared to the But, I am really glad you showed us the first ones and described what happened and what parts were missing.

  2. i am glad for the tutorial too...thanks Wendy! i will know what to do now if we find a bear on the road...something that is likely to happen here!

  3. great post Wendy - really well laid out, illustrated and explained.

    your children mare lucky to have such a good teacher!

    btw - email me: i have a dew questions re your son's bike.


  4. PP- Dad was a farm kid, and he's an avid hunter. He was never a butcher, although he may have worked in a butcher shop at some point. He worked a lot of add jobs in his youth. Glad the pics were less disturbing, lol. Funny how it becomes a hunk of meat once you take the skin off.

    Thanks K & J!