Tying flies with road kill? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Tying flies with road kill?

John Desjardins
06-29-2001, 08:50 AM
I think that this has been a bad month for the areas wildlife based on my observations. In the month of June I've seen the following dead on the side of the road; 2 deer, 1 duck, 1 goose, several possum and raccoon's, countless squirrels and this morning a red fox. Seeing the fox got me to thinking about using road kill for tying flies.

My knowledge on the topic is how to skin an animal, and that the prime time for pelts is late fall-winter. This leaves me with the following questions about using road kill for flies;

1. How do I tan the skin?
2. What is the legality of picking up the carcass, and disposing of it after skinning it?
3. Health & safety issues I should be aware of?
4. How to keep bugs out of my current collection of fly tying materials?

Does anyone have experience on this topic.

06-29-2001, 09:47 AM
I saw the animal patrol taking a fresh fisher off the pavement one day - man did that tail look useful!

Only item I can comment on... #4 - I went to tupperware.

06-29-2001, 12:26 PM
There's nothing like a fresh SKUNK KILL!!!
The long black hair makes a great eel and the white is almost as good as bucktail...
Even after you chase the skunk out of the boat, the stink lingers on!

John Desjardins
06-29-2001, 02:14 PM
I would have a lot of time free to fish after bringing a dead skunk home ;). Of course the lawyers fees, alimony, etc would kill the fishing budget.

On a serious note last year I saw a skunk tail in the fly tying section at Bob Marriotts fly shop. Long straight white hair, with no smell. I couldn't bring myself to buy it though.

06-29-2001, 03:05 PM
John I think you might want to consider both the legal and health issues. Legally if you are in posession of a game animal you must be liscensed and it must be within the season as posted by the state. This includes a pelt, carcass, or any parts of a protected or regulated species. It really gets serious if you pick up a feather of a federally protected bird and are unlucky enough to be discovered in posession. Most game officials I have encountered over the years have been both sensible and intelligent but there have been exceptions. You could fall prey to the local ruling authority. Having the receipt from a fly shop is one way I know of legally allowing you to posess parts of an animal.
The more serious issue to me is the handling of a roadkill or any legally taken game for that matter.The viruses alone that game animals can be inflicted with have forced a taxidermist friend of mine to stop handling certain animals. Rabies, distemper, chronic wasting disease, and even the ever present fleas quickly come to mind when I approach any downed animal. As a hunter I usually have the opportunity to observe game before I decide to take it and would probably notice any abnormal behavior. A roadkill doesn't allow this opportunity.
If you were only considering taking tails then I am sure I am talking overkill here(though fleas and Lyme Disease do remain an issue) Just keep in mind that those of us who have been taking animals over the years now have to consider new health issues when handling and cleaning game. Knowing the possible consequences keeps me from handling any roadkills. Hope this helps.. .J.D.

06-29-2001, 05:51 PM
Ya.....just buy the stuff..Hate to cut my finger while gutting road kill that has Rabies.

Willie Gunn
06-29-2001, 06:06 PM
Hi All
What a fuss
Most fleas will leave the carcuss on death. No heat,they realise their host has pased on and set off looking for a new host.

Take what ever you want then Microwave it.

I do not know a lot about American law but if you had a pelt with wheel marks the state would look stupid suggesting it was poached.

06-29-2001, 08:53 PM
Good point Willie, I will be looking for that great blue heron roadkill, or maybe a polar bear ;-)

06-29-2001, 09:45 PM
as a former falconer, I've been known to use a fresh roadkill or 2 to feed the birds I had... most police would't even want to discuss the issue with you if they ever see you gathering it up. you should have seen the guy that stopped me for snagging live pigeons uper an overpass with a 15ft fishing net that had a flashlight strapped to it. confusion and panic!!! the only thing he said was ... uh,oh,ummm ,be careful! then sped off!!! TomD

John Desjardins
06-29-2001, 10:11 PM
Thanks every one for the responses. I think for now I'm going to keep my life simple and stick with the purchased materials.

07-02-2001, 01:23 PM
John - I USED TO stop and collect like that - stopped years ago when this rabid 'coon/skunk thing became prevalent along with Lyme disease. I bypassed multiple turkeys 'cuz I didn't know how long they'd been dead; I've passed on perfectly good 'coon carcasses and the occasional dead bear cub or fox. I'm not afraid to say I'm paranoid, and working in the funeral business part-time, I always seem to have a set of heavy duty gloves with me regardless - I just won't pick up roadkill anymore - the last thing I took from the side of the road was a bird - and I was almost sure based on the type of bird it wasn't a threat. It went in the freezer and I have yet to skin it out. We're all better off taking precautions. Good choice.

08-14-2001, 11:13 PM
John, There is the other route you can take...
Go to the zoo...
I have eagle feathers, hawk feathers, toucan feathers, etc....
I ask zoo handlers for feathers that are naturally shed by the birds. I have grizzly bear fur from their cages, the zoo keeper was cleaning their cage during my visit. I explained that I needed a small bit of hair/fur for fly tying, they brought me a heaping handful. :)
It's there for the asking, I always take plastic bags to the zoo.
You can too, soon you'll be tying baboon fur nymphs... 8)

08-15-2001, 05:11 AM
I use to pickup road kills for years, but have changed when in Maine a Conservation Officer felt sorry for me when I picked up a road kill grouse. It is against the law in most states.

John Desjardins
08-16-2001, 09:41 AM
Mayfly Man, Be carefull about eagle feathers. I believe that they are illegal to posess under the endangered species act. Zoo's can be a good place to get some materials. I have collected a few peacock feathers in colors that you never see for sale.

08-16-2001, 10:47 AM
In my riverside travels out west, I have come across great blue heron feathers frequently near rookeries and an occasional heron carcass. Their feathers are uniquely suited to Spey fly construction, but are highly illegal to possess. I wouldn't want to be caught with them even if the way I obtained them had nothing to do with the intent of the federal law!

08-16-2001, 11:28 AM
I do believe this is chiseled in stone somewhere. To possess any raptor feather, carcass or otherwise is illegal at both state and federal levels without a permit. One day I drove by a dead hawk on the road, went and took care of my business and was driving back when I observed a man who stopped to take the carcass. He thought very little of my admonition to take heed of the laws as he sped away, wondering what my cell phone was doing as he looked in the rearview mirror. Come to think of it, I didn't hear from my friend (the NH F&G EPO) as to the outcome.

I never gave the zoo a thought.

08-16-2001, 12:25 PM
I have a few gorgeous blue and yellow macaw tail feathers from freinds with pet birds. These are upwards of $40 at the flyshop for center feathers, but one each from matched sides does the trick real well for those coveted horns on classic atlantic salmon flies.

I believe you'll find them at exotic bird stores too, they tend to fall off regularly.

October Caddis
08-16-2001, 12:49 PM
Just 2 days ago while driving down I-5 Just North of Albany saw a dead Blue Heron beside the passing lane. For years I've looked for one and have even searched for the feathers around the rookerie on Lake Samamish with no luck. You don't know how bad I wanted to get off at the next exit and go back and get it. I thought better of it and continued on my way because it is against the law of possesion. But still I'm looking for a dead from old age Blue Heron along an isolated strech of river. It's become the holy grail for me and to think that I passed up on the only dead one I've ever seen.
Sinktip and myself have sat on many a river bank discussing the where abouts of the Great Blue Heron buriel grounds. It may be against the law but to be able to tie just a couple of real spey flies and see how they swim may be worth the risk.

08-16-2001, 01:01 PM
I have found a fair amount along a certain stretch of river where the basalt rocks are real craggy near a heron hangout. This spot is only accessible when the flows are real low, and it's best to go in the morning calm before the wind kicks up. Of course I wouldn't dare touch them.

Besides the pool fishes much better from this angle and I have scored very well on summer runs from this spot.

There is a tremendous rookery in Concord MA along route 2. It has become a sort of heron mecca, with state troopers having to work to keep the bird admirers from parking on the highway. You can count 50 nests high atop bare tree trunks that died in the flooded marsh. I'll bet there are 1000 feathers blown into the adjacent woods each breeding season, what a waste.