Posted by: brian | October 24, 2008

You can lead a pheasant to a trash can

but it won’t stay put unless it’s dead.

(Note: This paragraph includes a not-overly-graphic description of a dead pheasant.) This morning I stopped at the Holiday station near our place to put gas in the car. As I was filling the tank, I saw what appeared to be feathers sticking out of the trash can. I thought, “That’s weird.” Then I looked closer, and saw feet, and a wing splayed out to one side, and partially covered in trash. There was an bloody wound on part of the carcass, and it was stuffed head-first into the can, but the coloration and size indicated that it was a pheasant. My guess is that it had been struck by a vehicle and carried from the highway to the gas station on the bumper or hood. I can’t imagine someone went hunting, shot a pheasant, and threw it in a trash can on their way home. It also must have happened sometime in the early morning, given its position near the top of the garbage.

I was perplexed. Why would someone throw away perfectly good meat? I should clarify: I’ve never eaten roadkill myself, but I have been reading Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The premise of the book is that a comet strikes the Earth, wiping out civilization as we know it, and the survivors are forced to struggle through the aftermath. It’s very engrossing, and every time I put it down I have to remind myself that the world is not actually coming to an end. However, for the past couple of days I’ve been thinking more and more about how wasteful we are. We throw out so many things not because they are unusable, but because there is no reason to save them – things like glass jars and metal cans, any type of plastic container, copious amounts of food…. But in the post-apocalyptic world of Lucifer’s Hammer, EVERYTHING is important. One character makes a comment, regarding the metal tab from a beer can, along the lines of “Save everything. We might not know what we’ll use it for, but we can’t throw anything away.” After immersing myself in that for several days, it’s hard to see a perfectly edible animal go to waste.



  1. That’s why I hoard all my recyclables.

    Just kidding. My bins are overflowing because I’m lazy. I admit it.

  2. Good thing my husband didn’t read this, as he would have found that Holiday station and brought home some dinner. Ok, he wouldn’t have done that, but he has brought home a roadkill pheasant before. It was delicious.

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