A handyman who will serve up “roast venison a la roadkill” on Christmas Day has confessed to scouring roads for fresh animal corpses every morning—despite being branded a “serial killer” by his girlfriend’s family.
Driven by a desire to reduce waste, Jim Alexander, 41, has recovered nearly 50 dead animals—including deer, pheasant, rabbits and even badgers—from roads near his house in Torquay, Devon, England in 2018 alone.
Now on December 25, Jim, who butchers the meat at home, will be celebrating with his beauty therapist girlfriend Betina Bradshaw, 54, by tucking into a roast roadkill venison leg, saying:
“I know people will think it’s unusual but really it just makes sense.”
Jim and Betina on holiday (Collect/PA Real Life)
“Betina’s family all think I’m a complete weirdo for doing it and think that I’m a serial killer.”
“But actually, I do it because I can’t stand to see the waste of life, and by taking the animals home and eating them I’m at least somehow reducing that waste.”
Self-professed “roadkill forager” Jim, who cooks up everything from Scotch eggs to pasties from his finds, began employing his unusual hunting methods to make the creatures’ deaths “less futile.”
Jim uses nearly every part of the animal, trading some of it for food and products that he cannot forage for (Collect/PA Real Life)
And it has led to some rather unusual menus, including dishes like fox and badger.
“I was quite interested to try them because I know in the past people have eaten those kind of animals.”
“But they gave off a pretty terrible smell, because of all the bad things they eat and even my dog had to leave the kitchen.”
Jim and his dog Baron (Collect/PA Real Life)
“So, I had to let the meat soak in milk, which neutralises it, and really stew it for a long time to try and get rid of the overpowering taste.”
“Badger tastes very similar to pork, but fox has its own taste, which isn’t particularly nice, so I usually try and mask it with a sauce or jerky.”
But a few bad experiences have not been enough to cool Jim’s ardour for experimenting with roadkill, in line with his sustainable lifestyle, which also sees him searching woods near his home for mushrooms and herbs.
Jim also forages in the woods for mushrooms and herbs (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I only really go to the shop now for things that I can’t find outside like toothpaste and shower gel.”
He also collects and stores badger fat as an alternative for cooking oil.
“I have so much meat that I have to store it in freezers. I either feed the excess that I can’t eat to my Czechoslovakian wolfdog pet Baron or trade it for other things that I might not be able to find.”
“It saves me a lot of money and it certainly keeps my dog happy!”
Jim’s interest in sourcing his own food was instilled in him as a child growing up on a farm in the former Czechoslovakia.
Spending much of his time either tending to the animals or playing in the woods, the young hunter soon began catching and skinning rabbits, which he would then cook and eat.
“We were very rural. We were the sort of people who never went to the shops.”
Pheasant are Jim’s biggest roadkill haul (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I was five-years-old when I killed my first rabbit. That was the sort of thing we did. It was in my blood.”
A red-blooded lover of meat and two veg, as a teenager he then studied butchery at school, before going on to work in a slaughterhouse in Ireland in the late 1990s for eight months.
Then, keen for a new adventure, at 21, Jim decided to travel around Europe, visiting Germany, France and Ireland eventually ending up in the UK in 2000 and settling in Torquay, after being drawn to its name on a train station schedule.
Jim with his partner Betina (Collect/PA Real Life)
While he loved the seaside town, the country ways of his childhood were what inspired him to start foraging roadkill.
“Working odd jobs around Devon I would drive along the narrow country lanes in my van and often see animals lying by the roads.”
“Picking up roadkill isn’t illegal in Britain like it is in other places around the world, so sometimes I’d stop and pick something up if it still looked fresh.”
Jim’s venison scotch eggs (Collect/PA Real Life)
And soon it became a regular pastime, with Jim discovering the most common places to find deer and pheasants, which had fallen foul of traffic heavy roads.
“After a while, I started to think to myself that I should do this seriously and I began looking out for where the deer slept and where they most often crossed the roads,” said Jim, who judges the freshness of an animal by the smell of its carcass.
Going out each morning in his van before sunrise, to the spots he knew he was most likely to see roadkill, Jim was soon finding around two or three dead animals each week, which he would take home in black bags, before hanging and butchering them in his shed.
Jim studied butchery and worked at a slaughterhouse before moving to the UK in 2000 (Collect/PA Real Life)
But his hobby is not without its hazards, as several times Jim has been stopped by police officers—whose suspicions were aroused by his twilight activities.
“A few times a police car has pulled over while I’ve been by the side of the road lifting a carcass into my van.”
“They always look at me a bit strange when I tell them what I’m up to, but once they realise I’m doing nothing wrong they are fine and one even helped me lift an animal into the van.”
Jim and his girlfriend Betina at a friend’s wedding (Collect/PA Real Life)
Jim is now such an adept forager, he has a freezer full of roadkill, carefully butchered and labeled with the date when it was found.
“All the meat I find and eat is just as hygienic as the food you would get in a supermarket.”
“There are certain things you have to look out for to make sure it is OK to eat—for example if the collision punctures the gut then it spoils the meat.”
“But otherwise it is nearly always fine, and you can cut away the parts of the animal that were damaged in the crash.”
Quick to dispel any accusations that he gets pleasure out of his grisly hobby, Jim insists that he collects the roadkill as a mark of respects for the dead animal.
“Having worked in a slaughterhouse for so long I just got sick of the killing that goes on in the meat industry.”
Jim with Betina on holiday (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I try to explain to people, like Betina’s family, that I’m not a lover of killing, but that I actually hate it.”
“I’m bringing these poor creatures off the road and making good use of them—it’s better than them just lying there forever.”
Betina, who met Jim in a bar in 2011, recalled being gradually introduced to eating roadkill.
Betina’s family are less understanding than she is about Jim’s roadkill scavenging, calling him a ‘psychopath’ (Collect/PA Real Life)
“It was quite a gradual process for us starting to eat the roadkill.”
“The first few times he brought a deer home he told me it was for the dog and then gradually he started introducing the idea that it could be something for us to eat too.”
“Obviously you turn your nose up a bit at the start but now it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Jim’s venison pasties (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I quite admire him for it to be honest because it’s very enterprising and he is able to feed us purely on things that he finds.”
“My son, 25, who is a chef thinks it’s great, but other people in my family think it’s a bit odd.”
“My sister-in-law once really upset him when they called him a psychopath, not understanding that he’s actually so against the killing that goes on in the food industry that he doesn’t want to be a part of that.”
A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.