Vermonters are serious about their game. We’re in the midst of turkey season and bow season for deer just ended. Next weekend heralds the 16-day rifle season for deer. According to Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Service, more bucks are killed per square mile in Vermont than anywhere else in New England.
What I find most interesting about the hunting culture here is the reverence its given. Most folks that I’ve met have been hunting since they were little kids. Ask anyone who hunts, and they’ll get a little more quiet, a little more serious, and tell you how much they love being out in the woods this time of year.
In Howard County, on any given day we would see anywhere from ten to twenty deer mowing down our lawn and eating the ornamentals. However, since moving here, we’ve seen just one white-tail on our 17-ish acres of woods. Yep, you read that right. One. Even with our apple orchards laden with overripe fruit, I have yet to catch a single Bambi in the yard. I find this incredible.
Vermonters taste for game goes beyond the hunting season though — and this is where it gets really interesting.
Vermont is one of the few states that has a “pavement to plate” policy. Roadkill that’s deemed salvageable is picked up by the game warden and delivered to a local resident who has indicated an interest in receiving and processing the carcass. The independent paper, Seven Days, recently did a nice write-up about the role of local wardens in this less-than-glamorous operation. As it goes, once you’re on the warden’s list, you’re bound to end up with a deer, bear or moose carcass on your doorstep at some point down the road (no pun intended).
In celebration of this roadkill cuisine and the hunting traditions of the state, the Hotel Vermont in Burlington is throwing a dinner this weekend, aptly themed “Wild About Vermont” which will feature a wide variety of… you guessed it… roadkill!
I’m sure they’ll sear off the skidmarks before serving anything….
I digress. The anticipated roadkill / wild game menu sounds fantastic: moose ragout with wild mushrooms, black bear sausage with crabapple jus, grilled venison, and slow-roasted turkey with elderberry gravy. I’m sure it will be a dinner well worth the $75 meal ticket.
As it goes, our own little town is hosting an annual hunter’s breakfast next week and you can bet dollars to donuts that I’ll be there if I can! Scrambled eggs isn’t the same as moose ragout, but I’ll be happy to show my support nonetheless.