November 4, 2010

Roadside Treasures: Morality Check

You find a fresh roadkill in the morning hours, victim of someone's commute to work. Normally it's a no-brainer situation; you pull over, grab the critter, and process the fur/feathers when you get a chance, further down the road. But what happens when the animal is protected or closed to possession? It's already dead right?

What do you do?

♀ ring-necked pheasant
The Score:
The ring-necked pheasant is a treasure trove of feathers and hackle to the casual fly tyer. Everyday patterns like the PT Nymph would not be possible were it not for the beautifully barbed tail feathers from a rooster ringneck. Aside from the vibrant and iridescent flank and rump feathers, however, there isn't a ton of uses/patterns for the remaining feathers off of the rooster. Enter the hen ringneck. While much more subdued in coloration, the tan, cream, and brown-mottled feathers of the hen contain some wonderful soft hackles, even rivaling those of the Hungarian Partridge. While legal for purchase stateside, hen ring-necked pheasant skins are much harder to find off the rack, and the $15 to $30 price tag can be a bit hard to swallow for a female ditch parrot. And everyone knows that the feather quality of shot birds is second to none over those chemically treated commercial skins.

Minnesota Rule states that only cock roosters may be taken (albeit by firearm or bow and arrow), whereas State Statute provides contradictory language, such that "A person may not take more than one hen pheasant in one day or possess more than two hen pheasants". Which supersedes which, Statute or Rule? Of course, the regulations booklet trumps all, stating that "Road-killed animals may not be legally possessed, except by special permit from a DNR conservation officer, state patrol, county sheriff or other law enforcement officer."

So what do you do? Do you take the bird and secretly pluck and "possess" the feathers off the hen, I mean, It's already dead right? No harm, no foul? Or do you leave the bird lay, as it's just not worth the risk of getting caught for possession?

That's what I thought....

Caveat Emptor: The author, nor, condone the breaking of any federal or state game and fish laws. 
Take the post for what it's worth. No statutes, laws, or rules were broken for the creation and purpose of this post.


  1. Take it, unless you know there's 5-0 knocking on your doorstep the next day; who's gonna know? most importantly, who's gonna care- CRA

  2. @CRA: I see what you're saying, but first, I can see the local  Warden's house from my kitchen. Second, with my current employment status working for "the man", getting busted for an offense like this would not only be shameful, but downright inexcusable.  You can see the dilemma I would be in....

  3. I'd call the warden, tell them the situation and ask if they would have any problem in you harvesting what you could from the carcass. Offer to tie him a few pheasant tail nymphs.

  4. Call a friend who will suffer no moral/ethical hesitation or remorse when it comes to these types of things (e.g. Singlebarbed) and give him the GPS coordinates to the spot where you hid the specimen. Thank him later when a bag labeled "partridge" appears on your doorstep.

  5. Call the local PD and get a permit and keep it in your vehicle. In the mean time pluck the prime feathers, clip the tail and wings and leave the carcass. I usually fine several road kill pheasants in the winter (escapees for a local Pheasant Farm) if I get a extra hen I'll send it your way.

  6. Call the man explain your dilemma and see what they say! Having it in your possession even know you did not kill it your just as guilty in the eyes of the law with out commiting the actual crime bro! I have seen a few dead herons in my day and believe me its tough to walk on by!

  7. Blue Jay and Hummingbird feathers also make good flies!

  8. Call the Department of Transportation (whose job it is to clean the guts off the state's highways) and buy a couple of supervisor's lunch.

    Mention that it's such a waste to incinerate all that prime fly tying material - and would they consider moving the dumpster to your driveway.

    Now all you have to do is place an anonymous call to the DoT and they'll deliver the corpse to your doorstep that evening.

    Summers might be a bit odiferous, but Winter will feature little four-legged bricklets, whose pelts are thick and vibrant in color.

  9. I would "snip" what I need and leave the rest for the Coyotes.....complete that circle of life!