On a cool fall evening in my early 20’s I found myself sitting around a fire with a group of new friends. We were sitting in front of a makeshift home fashioned into a hillside with mud, leaves and straw on a woven stick framework. In total it was perhaps 10×10 on the outside, and the ceiling on the inside was no more than 4 feet at it’s highest point. That was Max’s house, where he’d already lived for 2 full years even through some of the coldest Vermont winters on record.
Max was a primitivist, who made his own clothes and everything he’d need to survive with his own two hands. All his tools where stone or wooden tools he’d made himself. His meals were all food he’d foraged, and included a lot of scavenged roadkill. On this particular evening, the meal was roadkill coyote with acorn polenta.
I’d never had roadkill, or coyote, but I wasn’t about to turn down a meal from a friend who I know had spent literally that entire day foraging and preparing it. Max wasn’t used to company for meals, and was obviously a bit self conscious.
Imagine the trepidation of hosting a dinner party for new friends, and then add to it the fact that your home is made out of mud and you’ll be serving them roadkill coyote.
None the less, he was an impeccable host. That day he’d also taken the time to find birch bark sheets for plates for his guests.
The coyote on my bark plate was moist and fatty, but quite tough. I tore off tiny pieces with my teeth to cut down on the long job chewing each tough piece thoroughly. So what does coyote taste like? I have to say it didn’t taste like much of anything in particular, good or bad. Perhaps that has to do with a lack of salt or seasoning.
The guys in this video do a much more careful job roasting a coyote, and they describe it as a fatty rich meat, that you’d have trouble telling apart from pork in a pulled coyote sandwich.
It was protein, and thus it was satisfying after the hike in, and for that reason I’d eat it again if I were hungry. When I got back home to my computer, a bit of research informed me that so long as it’s thoroughly cooked, just about any meat is safe to eat.
What about rabies you say? Can you get rabies from eating roadkill? Rabies and other pathogens are rare, but either way, they’re destroyed in thoroughly cooked food. The main risk, if pathogens are present, is to the person processing the raw meat of the animal.
You can read more about that from the Louisiana Department of Health or the New York Department of Fish and Game. Both state that rabies is completely destroyed by cooking, and that processing the animal and coming into contact with the raw tissue, especially spinal fluid and salivary glands, is the main risk.
In Vermont, modern primitivism is taking hold and I’ve found more and more of my friends taking to the woods for a rather extreme break from modern society. As a way to spend a misspent youth, primitivism beats just about any type of rebellion urban teenagers might dream up in my opinion.
What about you? Would you be willing to try coyote? What about roadkill? Leave a note in the comments below.