CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The man who helped put West Virginia on the map as a mecca for road-kill cuisine wants to put more vehicle-harvested venison in the refrigerators of the needy.
"I want to start a road-kill hotline," said Jeff Eberbaugh, the author of 1991's "Gourmet Style Road Kill Cooking and Other Fine Recipes," and "Road Kill Cooking Redneck Style and More Tails From the Fast Lane," published in 1992. "I see so much good meat lying along the road going to waste. It's meat that a lot of people could use, if there was a road kill man to take care of it."
Eberbaugh wants to be that road-kill man.
He also wants his home phone number, 304-275-1071, to become a regional road-kill hotline number, "something people can program into their cellphones and call if they hit a deer, or see one that's just been hit."
Eberbaugh, a former Kanawha County resident who now lives near Palestine, Wirt County, said each year he drives past hundreds of salvageable deer carcasses as he commutes to and from his job as a registered nurse. He has operated a deer processing service as a sideline for 13 years, and knows from experience that some road-kill venison can be as good as, or even better than, some venison dropped off by hunters.
"I've picked up a lot of animals off the side of the road that have been in better shape than deer that have been shot multiple times or have been improperly field-gutted by some of the hunters," he said. "I had a deer run into the side of my van last fall that hit his head and died. He was in perfect condition for processing."
After reporting that kill to a DNR conservation officer within 12 hours of the fatal deer-van collision, in keeping with the terms of a state law enacted in 1998 legalizing the possession of road-killed game, Eberbaugh converted the deer into ground venison and venison sausage. If his road-kill hotline catches on, he would do the same with donated road kill, giving away venison blended with pork shoulder in one-pound chub packs to churches and food pantries for distribution to the needy.
"It's good food. I've been eating it for years," Eberbaugh said. "If God didn't want us to eat road kill, he wouldn't have made it out of meat."