Posted on January 05 2019
With a collapse, fresh protein and fats will become worth their weight in gold. Most carb calories burn up quickly (metabolically speaking), so fats and protein are needed for sustaining energy throughout the day. Also, they deliver critical amino acids. The question is: If you aren’t already raising or storing it, where can you get your hands on some meat?
Many peppers plan on supplementing their larders with hunting and trapping forest creatures, so we compared the nutritional values of some of these beasties.
Of course the larger ungulates are going to be no-brainers as a source of calories, fats and proteins. But, good luck finding elk or deer during the apocalypse.
The big calorie-shockers on the list are raccoons and your neighbor’s dog. They are both rich in calories for the exact same reason: Fats. A fatty animal almost doubles your calories per pound, and being an omnivore, raccoons tend to accumulate intramuscular fat similar to bears, pigs or humans.
Side note: A domestic dog is fatty, while a wild dog is lean. 2 months after the EOTW the average dog is going to have lost most of its fat, and will eat more like a coyote.
What if it’s already dead?
If you happen upon an already-dead animal, unless the circumstances are dire, you might want to just keep walking. There are serious risks to consuming dead animals. As we considered writing on this subject, our initial thinking was: “If you thoroughly cook meat, and kill of all of the bacteria, all meat regardless of spoilage should be fine.” In most instances we were right, but in a few, important instances, we were dead wrong.
How did this animal die?
Eating an animal that died from an infection (like chronic wasting disease), envenomation, or poison could be a really bad idea. In a survival situation that would most likely mean severe illness and death for you and your loved ones.
How fresh is the meat?
If you can ascertain with relative confidence that the animal died from a non-infectious source (maybe freshly killed by a predator, or hit by a vehicle), the next issue you are up against is time and spoilage. There is a world of difference between finding a week-old winter kill whitetail in Montana, vs. a day-old raccoon out in the bayou. Temperature and humidity play a big role in how fast an animal spoils.
- How does the carcass look? How sever is the bloating (not a good sign)?
- Are there maggots present at the orifices or under the carcass, or just flies? Small maggots indicate 24 hrs since a fly laid its eggs on the animal. Pupating maggots indicate 6 days old (at least). At that point it is all probably toast.
- When tugged, does the hide still move around independent of the muscle underneath? If they are bonded together, that’s not a great sign and indicates it is old.
- Check the eyes. If the eyes are still clear, it’s likely it’s a fresh kill. Cloudy or missing eyes are indicative of more time dead.
- What is the meat like? A stiff carcass isn’t always an issue. Rigor mortis is always present within the first 24 hours, then the muscles will loosen back up. A fully rigored animal could actually indicate a recent death.
- Smell test. Cutting deeply down into a large muscle group (like the rump) and giving it a sniff can give you an idea if the meat is still good, and if there is any bone souring present. Bone sour is when the bone retains heat (even in cold temps) and helps create bacterial rot deep inside the animal around where the muscle connects to the bone. Maybe cut out only the freshest smelling parts, and leave questionable stuff behind.
- Tug on the hair. Lose hair that can be pulled from the hide is a bad sign and indicates an old carcass.
Note of caution: When rot sets in, and a number of different bacteria begin to break down the fats and protein… and they offload waste. Sometimes that bacterial waste is toxic to humans. Per the CDC, spoiled meats, even when brought up to (and held at) safe temperatures, can still be hazardous to eat due to the levels of toxins left in the meat. Anecdotal investigations into large group food-poisonings have shown that consumption of these toxins can cause food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome, and potentially death (especially due to lack of antibiotic availability in an TEOTWAWKI scenario).
If you want to experiment with the idea of Roadkill while society is still up-and-running, check first with your local Department of Wildlife Resources and your local laws. Many states allow for reallocation of roadkill to your dinner table. Some require notification while others will want to salvage any trophy items from the animals (antlers, horns, pelts) to prevent vehicular poaching.
But even then, what’s jumping through a few bureaucratic hoops compared to a full freezer of fresh venison?