Cobra-chickens, Roadkill, and Ingredients
It is not surprising that where Canada geese are protected, they defile golf courses, beaches, and attack cyclists in parks. One of my coworkers from Ottawa refers to them as cobra-chickens. Low flying slow heavy geese do however save my pride at the end of a lackluster deer hunting season. Their V-patterns leaving and arriving at a local pond near where I hunt deer are very predictable. When the seasons overlap, I will occasionally carry both a rifle and shotgun to my blind. Of course, when shooting at a goose I scare off all the deer for miles. The best time for geese is right at the end of deer season, but you only get one sure opportunity to exploit the flight patterns observed during deer season. They adjust quickly to being the primary targets and change their flight patterns and times with the very first volley of shots.
During deer season I could set my watch to the timing of the V formation flying over my stand, but after I popped my 12-gauge in their direction, they adjusted accordingly. On one occasion, two geese were flying over my blind and while they were only marginally within range, I foolishly took my chances and missed; as the bard said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” One of the pair then immediately flew back toward the pond at risk to itself to warn the others which were taking off toward me. It steered them safely away over the woods. I was impressed at both the self-sacrifice of the reconnoiterer and the fast shifting of the gaggle’s flight pattern. Apparently, they did not think he was a conspiracy theorist disrupting their routine.
A Canada goose is a nice treat when cooked properly. They are great in stews and cassoulet. I bagged only one goose and one doe this past year. For the hours of effort I put into getting that meager plunder, even at reasonable consulting rates, I could have reaped the weight of meat in precious metals. But I upped my hunting game through failure. Every mistake is logged and so is every beautiful sunrise. I will read matins somewhere, why not in the woods where it seems there is something appropriate about reading the repetitive psalmody of the lectionary with a firearm close at hand. The Psalms drive home the need to be what our enemies condescendingly refer to as conspiracy theorists. They remind me that next year could reap more game unless the elites kill them off with chem-trails, train derailments, toxic spills, factory explosions, truck accidents, orchestrated weather disasters, airline disasters and the like. Read the Psalms routinely and you will not think me crazy for that assertion: “For, lo, the wicked have bent their bow; they have prepared their arrows in the quiver; to shoot in the dark the upright of heart.” Ps 10:3. The prescribed mantra rightly shapes one’s cultural critique with graphic descriptions of gruesome assaults, foes, wild beasts, ravenous lions, venomous serpents, wild dogs, and trappers who seek their prey with nets, pits or arrows.
Admittedly reading matins while hunting has caused me to miss some shots. I recall standing for the gospel reading and looking directly into the eyes of a giant doe that prudently scurried off. My wife made fun of me for my lackluster hunting this season. She went out shopping on a chilly morning and called me reporting a fresh deer hit on the local highway; it was hit during the night, and I dutifully collected and processed the fresh kill. Upon finding a second deer, she quipped at me, “I have two now this year and you only have one!” Thankfully roadkill helps fill my freezer when I can quickly gather it after a cool night. It is far better than any processed foods and our pigs are happy to eat the bruised portions tenderized by the vehicle’s bumper.
One popular contemporary comedian got uproarious laughs out of an obviously urban and suburban boomer audience when he made fun of a West Virginia law allowing citizens to collect roadkill. I did not laugh at the clickbait video that had gone “viral.” What is wrong or funny with grabbing roadkill? Wild game certainly beats processed foods however obtained; there is not any health risk with it nor is one complicit in abortion. There is not any Senomyx flavoring in tire treads or on bumpers and I doubt it has made it yet into deer corn or into the ponds where the cobra-chickens roost.
Hearing that laugh track-conditioned audience’s Pavlovian condescending response to the image of “hicks” gathering free meat, reminded me that most of the friends and acquaintances of my kids have been the children of just such people. For example, one friend of my oldest daughter, after looking for something to eat in our kitchen, made the following statement, “You have no food, just ingredients.” That comment was the obvious result of being raised by parents (or parent) who never learned to cook; she was looking for packaged snacks as though eating processed poisons was normal and cooking from scratch was something completely unknown. She is now in her 30s and predictably her health is abysmal although no one in the allopathic cabal will tell her why or help her heal. High fructose corn syrup and vegetable oil is at least as deadly as those COVAIDS-911 jabs and far more addictive. After a bad reaction to a jab, someone might possibly find the sense to refuse subsequent jabs but strapping on the processed snack-food, fast-food feedbag is different. The slow buildup of toxins is a long incremental appetite induced process driven by an imperative that Lewis’ Screwtape refers to as among his demonic efforts, “...we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure is the formula....”
When people who have become conditioned to enjoy artificial tastes stimulated with fetal stem cells laugh at the idea of eating roadkill, it is safe to call it out as a symptom of our dark age. G.K Chesterton’s excellent work showing the need for Rome’s defeat of Carthage to bring history to that state of being “in the fullness of time” is well worth rereading with an eye toward our culture’s devolution back to Carthage (albeit without any Hannibal to admire). “...For Carthage fell because she was faithful to her own philosophy and had followed out to its logical conclusion her own vision of the universe. Moloch had eaten his children....” Cobra-chickens on the other hand manifest defensive prudence; we are looking up at them even when they are defiling our docks or chasing our bikes and pecking at our legs rather than flying gracefully overhead.
Thank you for this sagacious piece, Mr. DeRienzo, although long overdue.
Reading this little reflection brought cheer to my heart especially the habit of standing, bowing or inclining one’s head during morning prayers—- even in the deer stand! That word “ intende” as in “Deus in adjutorium meum intende “ is a good example of a plea that travels both ways back and forth from the humble deer stand to the heavenly grandstand. And your attention to the “cobra chickens”,with all their potential, gives me hope for the future of delicious pate’ even in a land of opportunity where animal’s rights are held in higher esteem than those of the butcher, the hunter, the poor chef or hungry tramp.
I have a friend who has permission to hunt geese on a golf course. The geese know the difference between a regular golf cart used by players and the maintenance worker golf cart. They flee the latter but ignore the former. My friend has learned how to sneak up on them with a loaded automatic 12 gauge in a golf bag.
At the risk of being banned from the Fleming Foundation:
Son: What’s for dinner, Dad?
Dad: Himalayan Possum.
Son: Himalayan? That sounds fancy! Did you have to special order it?
Dad: Nah. I just found Himalayan on the side of the road.
Possums are far too ugly to eat and I regularly get a glimpse of what they eat as they have taken to vomiting and defecating on top of my wood pile. Homesteading can be a challenging avocation on many levels.
My father (who, like myself, would eat just about anything) was not fond of possum. He told me that if I ever saw one crawling out of the belly of a dead horse I wouldn’t eat one either. Carolinians taught me to trap them live, feed them on cornmeal and sweet potatoes, and then kill them. They’re pretty good eatin’ then.
By the way, road-kill should not be harvested if the critters are crawling on the carcass. LTC DeRienzo’s comments about the weather and the recent occurrence of the critter’s demise indicates that he is well aware of this.
I would not eat an opossum killed roadside. Gregory’s process of cleaning it up with a week of proper feeding is important. And while I am not a fan of most fresh water fish, the exceptions are trout and catfish – oddly a bottom feeder and a top feeder. Salt water fish are generally better but once while teaching in Hong Kong, I was seated beside a beautiful young class member from Taiwan at a group dinner and she offered me some eel off of her plate to taste. I had eaten eel prepared by my Italian grandmother in tomato sauce and it was very good so I politely obliged and almost lost it immediately there at the table. It was so foul. Its taste brought to mind the sludge at the bottom of China’s dumping harbor where it was likely caught. I politely swallowed and quickly grabbed a drink. Still though, I would eat that entire eel before going to any fast food joint or strapping on any processed food feed bag.
Harvey Ussery uses road kill to breed black soldier fly larva to feed his chickens.
The Possum feeding idea is a good one. Alike to this is that, I’ve been told, pigs naturally thrive on ruminant manure, having followed wild herds in days gone by for the express purpose of consuming this predigested feast. The trick is taking them out of the pasture and feeding them up on acorns, corn etc. some time before slaughter (60 days?) so that the manure no longer flavors the meat.
Back in SC, everyone who ate possum corn fed it for a good time. Freshwater eel from the right water is as fine a fish as one can hope for. I’ve had it grilled and deep-fried in Montenegro–straight out of a limestone bottomed stream flowing out of what we call Lake Scutari. Just as good was the eel on an island in the big lake near Ioannina in northern Greece. They kept their frogs, eels, and fish, which had been netted in the lake, alive in big tanks and then grilled them. I’ve eaten excellent feral hog treated the same way. Mr Strenk’s description of manure-flavored pork reminds me of a hog-killing I once attended. I wrote a semi-humorous poem which I might post.
PS to Frank D: Have you ever eaten fresh-caught walleye from northern water? I prefer trout but not when I am eating walleye.
I have not had walleye. I grew up on the NH boarder of rural MA where the best freshwater fish were brook trout and bull head cats. I did love the saltwater eels my grandmother cooked as well as her sea snails. We would sit and eat the latter with a sewing needle pulling them out of their shells after they were cooked in a pungent sauce. My forehead was often sweating at her table.
Scungilli! The shrimpers in McClellanville gave me buckets of them hoping I could find a way of cooking sea snails. I failed but later enjoyed them in Sicily.