On Jan. 2, at 8:53 a.m., The Dalles Police were dispatched to E. 12th and Thompson streets on report of a chicken “in the middle of the road, across from the church.” By 8:56 a.m., an officer was on scene and, according to the police log, there was “no chicken in sight.”

Not only do we not know why a chicken was in the middle of the road, we have no idea whether it actually crossed the road or not—perhaps it flew the coop, perhaps it returned. Another chance to answer the age-old question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” is lost forever, despite the remarkable prompt response from by the city police officer.

Chickens may be a mystery, but I do know why the deer crossed the road: because a car was coming.

I even understand why the deer crossed the road right in front of the car, which hit it. I almost did that myself once. I had waded about four miles of creek in the dark and was walking the road home when then the sudden glow of headlights around the corner startled me into running. I couldn’t run to the near side because there was a fence, so I crossed the road in the glare of the lights and crashed down the bank. I remember being puzzled as to why I had done it. My best guess is that it’s hard to judge distance and speed in the dark, and if you are in tune with the quiet things a car is like a nightmare.

It was a very strange experience, to have almost been a roadkill.

I’ve hit a few deer—one did in the Subaru and the Jeep never really recovered—but I’ve learned to drive slower and am more observant. I haven’t killed anyone for years.

Not everyone is careful, of course, but at least now that serves some purpose: It’s legal to harvest road-killed deer in Oregon, and in the majority of cases a lot of good meat can be salvaged. I haven’t done it since the law changed, but in my experience the hardest part was getting the animal home. Now that it’s legal, that shouldn’t be too hard.

The second-hardest part is butchering, which I won’t get into.

Years ago there was a hot-spot on Browns Creek where an alfalfa farmer had put up a new deer fence. At the sudden appearance of a vehicle, the deer, eating next to the fence and have only one direction to run, did exactly what I did as a boy: they dashed across the road to the safety of the woods on the other side. It’s a real gamble, though. You have to decide on the instant, because if you hesitate you don’t get across quick enough. Mom makes it, maybe a couple siblings, but many of them wait too long and make the wrong decision.

My route home these days has one “corner of death” and several high-risk areas, in terms of roadkill.

A roadkill diet could be pretty varied, along the route: ground and grey squirrels are common, deer frequent and occasionally turkeys are available as well, but you would have to check the regulations if you are tempted.

If I find a deer or elk by the road, and choose to salvage it, I would have to file a Roadkill Salvage Permit online with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife within 24 hours. According to ODFW, only deer and elk accidentally struck by a vehicle may be salvaged; the entire carcass of the animal—including gut piles—must be removed from the road and right of way; and the animal can be salvaged for human consumption only.

Intentionally hitting a deer or elk in order to salvage it remains unlawful.

There are other rules and notices, and a lot of disclaimers regarding the safety of eating salvaged meat.

Butchering an animal is a lot of work, however. Instead of waiting for a deer to cross the road, I will probably be better served stopping at the grocery on my way home and buying that chicken, whether it crossed the road or not.

Later on July 2 (11:55 a.m.), a The Dalles Police officer was dispatched to the 100 block of west 14th on reports of a dog in the middle of the road. The officer arrived at 11:59 a.m. The dog did cross the road, and “was last seen in the 1500 block of Liberty Street,” according to the log. No mention was made of any chickens, however.

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