How I Painlessly Lost My Road Kill Deer Virginity
Penny and I went to my friends wedding in Lincoln city on Saturday afternoon. At the reception, drinks came free to all of course. As you know I have a little problem with drinking, and well, I began to feel a little uncomfortable around so much alcohol and so many drunk people. Sometimes, when the whole world around you says, “DRINK!” the only thing I can do involves getting the hell out of there. So we left early.
As we drove out of town on 101 we came across a large deer in the middle of the road. I pulled the car over immediately.
“Let’s check it out.” I said to penny, my adrenaline beginning to trickle.
About 20 yards in front of us sat another car. I told Penny to pull the deer out of the road so no other cars would hit it, while I ran down to talk with the people in the other car. A man and woman stood next to it. I walked over to them, slowly.
“Uh… Uh… Can you see it? Did it die?” The distraught woman asked. “We thought we saw it walk away.”
Obviously, these people had just hit the deer less than a minute earlier. “Uh, no mam. The deer died.” I adjusted my trucker hat and popped the question just as Penny Scout dragged the deer to the back of her wagon, “…Did you guys want to take it?”
Rewind a sec. The road kill deer acts as a sort of rite of passage into the modern world of primitive skills. Don’t ask me how or why. It just works that way. You have to know that I have waited for this moment for probably 8 years or so. Ever since I took my first skinning class and heard about using roadkill. I have only come close to this momentous occasion twice;
1. Once my sister called me at 11:30pm excited that she had found a roadkill deer and that I should come get it. On my way there I began to mentally prepare myself for staying up well into the night while skinning a deer. Unfortunately while her and her friends watched the little deer some redneck guy pulled up and STOLE it from them!
2. Another time Tony brought a deer to my house in Portland at midnight and we tried to skin it, only to realize that it had sat for waaaay too long and stunk. Living in the city without a car, I don’t often leave. So I don’t often have the opportunity to pick up roadkill deer. Squirrels? Often. Deer? Never!
I have never once found a deer as fresh as this one. In retrospect, perhaps I should have asked them if everyone in the car felt okay after the accident. But I just didn’t think about it. The man spoke to someone on his phone, possibly his car insurance company? We didn’t have a lot of time before the authorities or some asshole shows up and tells us we can’t take this deer home.
“Do you want to take it?” I asked again.
“Take it? …No.” Said the woman, confused. Though once she saw my plaid shirt and trucker hat, I think she understood. They got back in their car and drove over to us, Penny and I, “One, Two, Three, Lift!” tossing the heavy, sad corpse into the back of her car.
“Look what it did to my car! I don’t know what to do?” I look at the drivers side door of his car and see the large dents. I then look back to the dead buck, whose legs have broken, antlers have shattered and inside ruptured. I say to the man, noticing that a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old sits in the backseat looking absolutely horrified, “We’ll take care of it.” I close the back of Penny’s car. We jump in and drive away.
Quickly in the car and safely on our way back to Portland we now must solve problem number 2; what the hell do we do with a dead deer? Yes, I have skinned squirrels. I know how to do it “in theory.” But I have never done it before, nor has Penny. Though she did have some experience with it. I call my buddy Tony.
“Hey bro.” He says.
“I just picked up a roadkill deer.”
“Some people in front of us hit it.”
“When will you get back into town?”
I look at the clock. It reads 9:30pm.
“Not for another two hours.”
“Sorry dude. I got to go to bed early… I’ll call around and see if anyone wants to help.”
We hang up. I wonder if Penny and I will just do it ourselves in my backyard. I ask her to put on the Misfits. She does. I hear Glen Danzigs deep voice screaming and I worry that we’ll get pulled over and have to explain ourselves to the cops. Penny tells me that a brake light stopped working a while ago. Good thing she told me this now that we have a dead deer in the back seat! What will the cop think!?! A few minutes later Tony calls back and tells me that this guy Ernie can help us. He gives me Ernies number and I call him.
“Hey, Peter… Uh, Urban Scout here.”
“Um, Tony says you want to help us skin and butcher a deer?”
“You don’t mind staying up late and showing us how?”
“Oh. Okay awesome! We’ll see you there in about an hour and a half.”
An hour and a half later (11:30pm) We pull up to the house where Ernie lives. He stands tall and has long red hair, a viking look for a true ex-sailor. He stands on crutches, having survived getting hit by a car a year or so ago while building a cob structure. He has set up a tarp illuminated by a single light overhead. We plop the deer down and he doesn’t waste a moment. He starts asking us what we think we should do and then telling us what we need to do. His instruction felt a little irritating at first, but as 3am rolled around I realized if Penny and I had tried it ourselves, we wouldn’t even have half of it done or learned anywhere near the amount of things we gleaned from Ernies stories and experience.
I would tell you more about what I learned, how we did everything, etc. But I just couldn’t do the process justice quite yet. Penny nor I took any more pictures after our hands got really bloody. What I can say though, involves getting someone to show you how to do it. No lecture or field guide can accurately describe all the nuances in skinning and butchering a deer. I’ll take better pictures the next time around which hopefully will happen sooner than 8 years from now!
When we finally called it a night, Ernie looks at us and says, “What did you just learn?” We looked at him dumbfounded and tired. “You just learned how to take a deer apart.” We gave Ernie and his partner Erica, who also helped us, some of the meat as trade for the spontaneous instruction. Though I really think the value of his help feels priceless.
As I fell asleep that night I began to have dreams where I could feel the car running into my body, my jaw hitting the asphalt highway knocking my teeth out, all in slow-motion. I thought about my friends who have died in car accidents. It really makes me sick. One of the things Ernie explained that will stick with me forever; the pressure from the car causes the insides of the deer to force themselves out either end, blood and vomit out the mouth, blood and shit out the ass. I really fucking hate civilization. As I always mention when I pick up roadkill, I hope that somehow I can honor the animals life by using its body to teach me how to live more closely with the community of life. Thanks Deer, for your gift of life, and thanks Chance, for bringing us to this deer. No thanks to the car, the car culture, or civilization for killing this poor animal in such a disgusting way.
Now I’ve got a freezer full of delicious deer meat to eat;
Some bones and sinew for tool-making;
And a hide to tan for leather;
Now I can finally feel confident when I say, “I practice primitive skills.” I have finally lost my Road Kill Deer Virginity and I couldn’t imagine a better way to lose it than to have someone with experience show you how. I guess maybe it would have felt a little nicer if we had done it by candlelight. Thanks again Ernie and Erica!
Show your support and appreciation for Urban Scout