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 The Bone Collector

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soothsayer
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Posts : 1354
Join date : 2011-06-30
Age : 45
Location : Right here.

PostSubject: The Bone Collector   Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:53 am

This has been an interest and hobby of mine for a while now, and I thought that I might as well keep a record of things and share them.

I am a bone collector, of sorts.  What I do is drive around, find roadkill, step out of the vehicle and examine the carcass and, if deemed a good candidate, I remove the head.  Okay, so a bone collector might be the wrong term; the phrase I've coined for this is skull harvesting.  

I have taken my children with me on these trips, although the first group expedition was a lesson learned for each of us.  For the youngest, it was when he watched me clip a rabbit's head off with a branch clipper.  For the oldest boy, it was when he peeled (yes, peeled) an opossum off the road and tossed it in a box (oh, did that one stink, mein gott!)

Essential tools:

1.  A few boxes of various size, or maybe one cooler which the family does not need any more, which you can place the item for transport.
2.  Several plastic bags from the grocery store, as these make great "gloves" to pick up an item and subsequently wrap it.
3.  Cutting tools.  I personally use a tenon saw and branch clippers.  I like the tenon because it is a bit more ridged than a standard saw, and is more compact... you won't drive the end into the dirt when you are sawing.

4.  Hand sanitizer.  You know, for when you're done cutting.

What I do:

1.  On a simple back road where there is little to no traffic, I just pull alongside the remains and cut away.  It is a fairly quick process.
2.  On a busier road, you may have to take the remains elsewhere before cutting... just be careful and mindful.  You don't want to take anything gooey (look at the above example with the opossum).
3.  In any case, you may have to prop up the remains so you can finish the cut, as you really don't want to cut into the dirt.
4.  Cut quick, because who knows what the people driving by are thinking (or calling).  The last thing you want is to explain to the police what you are doing; it isn't illegal, it just makes for a tale best left untold.  Watch for traffic.  Set things up to make it look as if you are changing a tire (ie, put a spare tire out leaning against the car).
5.  Box the item.  If it is dripping, keep it in a plastic bag, and then put in the box.

Now, this may not be desirable for everyone here, depending on where you live.  The next step is to remove the flesh from the bone.  Upon bringing the item home, there are two things you can do... well, there's plenty you can do, depending on what you find on the internet.  With me, I try to keep costs down to a bare minimum (if any at all).

One thing you can do is boil the item, allowing for the flesh and other non-bone parts to fall away; this is great, especially if you don't mind your spouse ripping you a new one for doing this in her pot, on her stove, in her house.  You could try doing this over a campfire, but that'd be time consuming.  You could try to cut away as much meat as you could before the boil so it goes by quicker, but come on and be realistic: your cleaning roadkill, something that has been sitting there for god knows when, dripping and oozing and reeking.  You really want to do that?

The second is to do what I do: simply let it rot away.  I have a nice little set-up which I do this.  I've taken a rack from an old refrigerator and placed it on two to four bricks; you want to do this so the drippings will actually drip away from the remains.  I then place a plastic milk carton over the remains to prevent animals from taking my goods, and then I put a cinder block on top of the carton.  Depending on the type of carton you have, you may want to wrap the carton with chicken wire.  The key is to keep it open so bugs can still get at the remains.

**a laundry basket is also a good choice instead of a carton, and can be readily bought at any dollar store for $4.  Just keep in mind that they are a bit flimsy, and may bend depending on where you place the block.**

The latest thing I've collected is a snapping turtle.  Found it on the roadside June 14, picked it up June 17.  I have a few pictures of what had all happened during the rotting process, but I won't post those here (I will email them to whoever requests them).  I will post the "after" pictures, though.

This first one makes it painfully obvious that the turtle was a female.  I was rather surprised on how many eggs there were!



The second shows the shell; the smaller piece is the "belly" of the turtle.  The darker patch and rim is skin.  They have leatherized, but I'm just waiting for them to start peeling so I can remove them easier.



I'm certain someone out there is wondering why I do this.  One, I love skulls.  I don't see them as being morbid or about death... I'm amazed by the beauty of the skull, the design, and in a way honor the animal that it once was.  Two: have you seen how much a skull goes for on the likes of eBay?  Using the example of the turtle, I saw on eBay a snapper skull / shell combination selling for over $50, not counting the shipping / handling costs!

This is why I keep my costs non-existent: if I plan this out properly, I could make a fair amount of cash simply for picking up roadkill! Just ran a preview mode of this post, and noted the saw image is HUGE. I did not host that image, but rather did the "insert image", where it takes the URL and has the optional height / width. Who knew it'd be so big?
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