Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Ethics of Road Kill

In Screen Saver there are a number of stories that have bird hunting with Blitz and Brown – two wonderful German Shorthaired Pointers - as their background milieu. These stories inevitably talk about various aspects of hunting, shooting, preparing, cooking and eating various upland game birds: pheasant, chukkar, Hungarian partridge and quail.

What I didn't realize I was omitting during all the writing and editing of the book was that I completely neglected to mention a key adjunct to the hunting of birds. Being out in the wheat fields and sugar beet fields of Oregon and Idaho inevitably brought Jack and me into contact with a physical phenomenon and an associated dilemma. Pheasants like to fly into the path of oncoming cars. Sometimes they make it through unscathed. Sometimes they don't. When they don't, they often manage to limp and flop to the edge of the road where they die not much worse than for the wear and tear of a ruptured heart or massive concussion resulting from contact with the car. This caused the phenomenon: lots of possibly edible game scattered hither and yon along the roadways and byways of many beautiful autumn afternoons. Which led to the dilemma: is it ethical to re-harvest any or all of that previously harvested game?

Jack and I decided that, if we had seen the game being harvested the answer was a definite yes. If the incident of the bird's demise had not been personally witnessed by us, and, if upon stopping and examining a victim, rigor mortis had not yet set in, the answer was a slightly less enthusiastic yes, but yes nonetheless. If the victim was stiff as a tray of ice cubes the answer became hunger dependent.

Recipe to follow.

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