Coon meat and Faygo – Dinner in the D

racoonmeatThe Detroit News has an interesting little feature today on a Detroiter named Glemie Dean Beasley, who supplements his Social Security income by catching urban raccoons, slaughtering them, and selling their meat to neighbors. Beasley, who calls himself the Coon Man, says the carcasses can got for as much as $12, and can serve four people. Here’s a clip, to give you the flavor of the piece, which includes video of a cooking demonstration.

When selecting the best raccoon carcass for the special holiday roast, both the connoisseur and the curious should remember this simple guideline: Look for the paw.

“The paw is old school,” says Glemie Dean Beasley, a Detroit raccoon hunter and meat salesman. “It lets the customers know it’s not a cat or dog.”

I like the resourcefulness, but I can’t help but think that this is the image of Detroit that the national press, in the City to cover the Final Four, is going to transmit to the world. As if people didn’t think that Detroit was a squalid wasteland to begin with, now they’ll have the image of men with guns hunting down rodents for food – one baby step away from cannibalism.

THIS IS A PAID ADVERTISEMENT: Fortunately, we don’t have to eat $12 rodent carcasses in Ypsilanti. Thanks to MarkMaynard.com and the good folks at Aubree’s, we have all the wonderful medium pizzas with two toppings for just $6.99 we can eat…. at least for the rest of this month. So, get your fill now, before you’re forced to subsist on coon flesh and Faygo.

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43 Comments

  1. Posted April 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Also in the news today, the Free Press ran an article about one man’s plan to convert several hundred vacant inner-city parcels into an urban farm.

    No word if they’ll be breeding coon.

  2. Posted April 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    How timely.

    I’ve been spending hours over the past couple days trying to figure out the legality of trapping groundhogs, which are apparently a game animal and require a license or permit.

    I’ve also discovered that no one needs any kind of license or permit to trap and kill raccoons on their property.

    Also, you’d be surprised how thin those raccoons really are under all that fur. They’re like hairless, skinless, steamy cats that smell like raw hamburger.

  3. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I like the resourcefulness, but I can’t help but think that this is the image of Detroit that the national press, in the City to cover the Final Four, is going to transmit to the world. As if people didn’t think that Detroit was a squalid wasteland to begin with, now they’ll have the image of men with guns hunting down rodents for food – one baby step away from cannibalism.

    Fuck what everyone else thinks. Right in the ear. The world would be a better place if everyone was like Coon Man.

  4. kjc
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    (i can’t believe it but) i agree with BA.

  5. Scholaria
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I believe raccoons are procyonids, not rodents. Sounding better and better for dinner, huh?

  6. Dave
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a clip from “Roger and Me” about the “Rabbit Lady”. Caution, if you’re squeamish about killing and eating rabbit, you might want to pass on the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3gvHWf7ldY

  7. Posted April 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, you haven’t been reading the best articles in Detroit lately. The Metro Times ran an article on this guy back in January http://metrotimes.com/culture/story.asp?id=13618

    This months article is about a Russian Bath house that has Orgy Night on Friday and Saturday
    http://www.metrotimes.com/culture/story.asp?id=13821

    They also did an article with the manager of a hooker hotel.

    I’m just upset that this TV Press is probably going to bring in the Health Dept who will shut him down for selling meat without a permit.

  8. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    hunting down rodents for food – one baby step away from cannibalism.

    So in Mark’s book babies are practically rodents? Ouch! I’m glad I’m not the one who has to tell Clementine what daddy really thinks of her…

    My favorite from the article:

    “Coon or rabbit. God put them there to eat. When men get hold of animals he blows them up and then he blows up. Fill ’em so full of chemicals and steroids it ruins the people. It makes them sick. Like the pigs on the farm. They’s 3 months old and weighing 400 pounds. They’s all blowed up. And the chil’ren who eat it, they’s all blowed up. Don’t make no sense.”

    That’s really good stuff. So would it be smart, politically, to wait until the urban chicken stuff has passed before we start lobbying for more lenient urban trapper ordinances?

  9. Posted April 2, 2009 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    I think the Detroit News poached this story from the original source, detroitblog:

    http://www.detroitblog.org/?p=562

    Which has a bunch of other great personal stories about Detroit, but not quite as saccharine as most other human-interest stories.

  10. Chelsea
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Recently, I saw a guest on a To Tell the Truth rerun who espoused this kind of cooking. I couldn’t help but wonder: Raccoon–I think–have a very high incidence of rabies. A lot of gross-out reactions come from unfamiliarity (that is, “We don’t usually eat this”). But how safe would it be to eat a raccoon? Not that I plan to, ever.

  11. Posted April 3, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I find some people’s snobbery about this amusing. Speaks volumes.

  12. Posted April 3, 2009 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    That wasn’t a reply at you, Chelsea. I don’t know about the rabies factor, but it doesn’t seem to have affected Coon Man, except perhaps that his thrill is gone away.

  13. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I’m glad we agree on something, kjc! Urban varmint meat really does tend to transcend politics.

  14. Paw
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve eaten pigeon quite a bit. They’re practically flying rats. And they’re not that bad. I don’t see why we wouldn’t be eating raccoons, squirrels, rats and insects. Meat is meat. (Not that insects have meat.)

  15. The Exterminator
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I wonder how much I could get for, say, 100 dead Carpenter Ants? I’ll use the low toxicity nonresidual pesticide that dissipates, and rinse ’em real good, too.

    I’m thinking we should be more inclusive with the groundhog fest. Like make it a Ypsitucky Varmint Victuals Cook-off.

  16. Sonic Reducer
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Better than the Californian’s response to economic woes — to gather in tent cities holding their hands out. At least we Detroit area folks make the effort to take care of ourselves, and help feed others in the process. ‘Tis more noble to eat a pigeon than act like a pigeon.

  17. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Mmmm…. If you have ever heard of or eaten squab, you have eaten pigeon. Super yummy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squab_(food)

    I gotta go with the pro-hunter/eaters here. The city is empty, empty, empty and people are getting hungry. We can all turn against each other or we can turn TO our environment for sustenance. Each racoon eaten is one less hand-out. One less theft for food. One less hungry belly. Other than the (very rare) case of rabies and the “they’re so cute and furry” BS, this is how humans have always lived and it’s as natural as breathing.

    Now, about that soylent green….

  18. roots
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Hmm…I tend to agree with Sonic Reducer. Resourcefulness!

  19. jean
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Pigeon in its young form is a squab and a delicacy. The big ones (farm-raised) are, in general, delicious, as are most of the itty-bitty birdies. Escoffier ate sparrow. As for raccoon, I would guess that the younger, the better as with rabbit and squirrel. Are these critters and their meat really more gross than a hormone & antibiotic-laiden piece of grocery store chicken or pork that spent its tortured life in filthy, monstrously cramped quarters?

    I have a friend that used to coon hunt as a kid outside of Toledo and your raccoon meat selling friend is likely making a good deal more than $12 a head as the hides used to go for $50. each in the 70’s. Anybody scavenging or raising their own food should be way up on your list, Mark. I’m all with Ted Nugent on this one.

    Ok, here’s my two-bit foodie theory: Class is just an overlay on food. 90% of what we consider ‘fancy’ food is just traditional food from another time or place. The industrialization of the food business was super profitable and perpetuated itself by creating enough distance between us an our food that anything that couldn’t be made by a machine became ‘exotic’. The further we get from the sources of our food the more room for abuse, but also the more likely we are to think anything ‘other’ is gross. So now we pay too little for food that is no good, judge the wealthy as snobbish for using their money to eat better, and then turn around and judge people who take matters into their own hands as somehow beneath us.

    Food, in its eating and its making is an adventure, available 3 times a day— an experience steeped in memory and tradition, meant to be shared. It requires some skill, time and attention, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. I don’t care how the media spins it, BA is right, that guy in Detroit is a hero, preserving a foodway that has mostly disappeared, taking care of himself. The irony here is that Black disenfranchisement has allowed them to hold on to some traditions where McDonald’s hasn’t taken over entirely. An ethnographer or food historian should get down there before the Ag dept. shuts him down.

    My dad’s favorite ‘country’ meal growing up was venison, wild mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns available only in the spring. Goat cheese is traditional to Appalachia with hollows to steep for cows. Pate is just a way to preserve meat. Call up grandma or an elderly neighbor, get her oldest recipes or, better yet, let her show you how to make something, have your friends do the same, then have a potluck. This is the way food should be, everyday.

  20. Posted April 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear, folks. I wasn’t saying that Coon Man was bad, or wrong. I was just saying that it occurred to me that his story would likely go national, and contribute to the national sense that we live in a distopian wasteland. Personally, I like the idea of chowing down on coon. If fact, not too long ago, some neighbors from the other side of the river and I were discussing a festival centered around the consumption of such animals.

  21. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Lotsa good people in our dystopian wasteland paradise.

  22. Posted April 3, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    The way I see it, every coon eaten is one less raccoon waking up my dogs by trying to get into my garbage at night. Ypsilanti should encourage people to trap raccoons and other critters too!

  23. Posted April 3, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    You can trap raccoons on your property all you want. Nothing illegal about it, don’t need any special permits. As I understand it. Go to town.

  24. jean
    Posted April 4, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    People in Detroit are hungry. People in Washtenaw County are hungry. I don’t care how bad it looks. “Say nice things about Detroit” didn’t do crap for the city. Bulldozing chunks of the Heidelberg project because it embarrassed Mayor Young was tragic. We don’t have to cover up our struggles to compete. Detroit is a powerful place, full of the best and worst. Detroit (like New Orleans and B’more) is one of the great American cities, if you are willing to really look full-on at America. The real American experience made that city.

    I’m not worried about final four fans not buying tickets or going out and having a good time afterwards. It may be rundown but there is no shortage of stuff to do in Detroit. There is an amazing spirit in this part of the country that is our best asset. We have great music, great sports fans, amazing museums, entrenched cultural traditions. Big name artists are working on major projects in the D. They are attracted to its ‘edge’. Why deny it? Why not capitalize on it?

  25. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 4, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t possibly agree more, Jean. White washing reality is never helpful. Just go with who you are, accept your percieved shortcomings with positive creativity, and people will appreciate you for it. Maybe one day they’ll even wish they kept it as real as you.

    Not that Mark was suggesting otherwise.

  26. Posted April 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    There’s no laws agianst trapping raccoons and woodchucks on your property. You can buy cages at Tractor Supply or Meijer for cheap. If you dn’t feel ike killing them, you can always just drive really far away and set the thing loose in someone else’s yard.

  27. Posted April 4, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    There’s no laws agianst trapping raccoons and woodchucks on your property. You can buy cages at Tractor Supply or Meijer for cheap. If you dn’t feel ike killing them, you can always just drive really far away and set the thing loose in someone else’s yard.

    Hey dude, depends on which DNR person you get on the phone. According to the biologist, you can trap woodchucks on your own property, but you can’t relocate them, you have to kill them there. According to the Lieutenant I talked to, you need either a small-game license or a fur-harvester license to trap/kill woodchuck, because woodchucks are considered a game animal, but their season is year-round. Both agree that Raccoons are no problem and no one needs a permit for killing raccoons on your property. I think the general rule is that you can’t relocate either legally without doing a bunch of paperwork and legal hoo-ha, so you should just kill them. As far as the legality of trapping woodchuck, I’d rather trust the person who would write me a ticket than the biologist (no disrespect to the biologist).

  28. Posted April 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    You are correct, in addition to my intended comment that people who catch live and let the animal out on someone else’s property are complete assholes.

  29. Posted April 4, 2009 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Ah. I get it.

  30. Posted April 5, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Be careful, BA. Raccoons have been known to put up a fight.

  31. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 5, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Mark, that sort of thing wouldn’t happen if we passed harsher tooth-control laws.

    Nice to know drunken Russian guys are just as twisted and stupid as drunken American guys.

  32. Posted April 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I am in a pickle, friends.

    I butchered a groundhog and got some dirt and groundhog hairs on the meat. I can’t get them off with a powerful spray of water, as they seem to be caught in the sticky membrane surrounding the muscle.

    I hate to waste it, as that would seem a poor way to treat an animal, if you’re going to kill it in the first place. So my question is: should I try boiling the meat to maybe make the membrane less sticky (and kill any bacteria), then try cleaning it again before cooking it, or should I just regard it as hopelessly contaminated and toss it, lesson learned?

    Any thoughts from experienced game butchers or anybody else?

  33. jean
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Butchering game should be taught, like hunting. That said, I’m assuming you properly gutted the animal and the ‘dirt’ your talking about is dirt not feces. (I’m also assuming this question is legit.) I am no expert but grew up around some killing of animals and participated begrudgingly (bad smell) in the butchering and processing. Anyway, you should be able to just rinse off the dirt and hair, neither of which will make you sick. Cooking the meat properly will kill any harmful bacteria, especially surface bacteria. I would just stew it up long and slow with lots of flavoring. If you didn’t properly gut the animal or waited any length of time to do so, you need to throw out the meat. Ditto if you didn’t get it chilled asap. Meat held at moderate temps for more than three hours can get you good and sick. Doesn’t fish and game have information?

  34. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m freezing the meat in the mean time, if that affects anyone’s advice.

  35. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Jean — sorry, I pre-post-posted you. It’s not feces, and that is a valid question. I’m glad that the dirt and hair shouldn’t make too much of a difference, but the problem I’m having with the rinsing is that I can’t rinse it off because of that sticky membrane. It seemed pretty easy in my head to do it, but the reality is proving different. I stuffed the abdominal cavity with snow after I gutted it (which was right after I killed it), skinned it, quartered it, and now it’s in the freezer. It was all done outside in the snow, and it was roughly freezing if the crunchiness of the snow is any indicator.

  36. Dan
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Urban racoons like to live in the sewer, so they might have a slightly different flavor than the rural racoons.

  37. jean
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Oh— I’m sorry. You can just trim off the membrane with a thin sharp knife. I don’t know if that will work after freezing but I don’t see why not.

  38. Morph Musc
    Posted July 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Just what is it about perusing things through someone else’s view point that offers such an incredible perspective? I am quite grateful for the blog as well as how it’s changed the internet in to a enormous variety of shared thinkings. I found myself on here just after doing some work related research on raccoon eating and somehow coming across your weblog. I’m happy that I stayed around to read a bit and I most certainly will not forget add your site to my RSS reader in order to keep tabs later on. Bye!

  39. Posted November 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    raccoon meat is delicious! enjoy!

  40. Meta
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Charlie LeDuff is at it again. This time, he’s golfing is way across Detroit to demonstrate how barren it is.

    http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/18945787/2012/07/03/charlie-leduff-golfs-the-length-of-detroit#.T_bNjxklsQ4.facebook

  41. buy ammo
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    They’re opening Brooklyn themed restaurants around the world. Maybe you could do the same for Detroit. You could serve coon meat and Faygo, and spin ICP jams.

  42. John Corbin
    Posted July 9, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry about Detroit’s image in the press. One of the oldest markets in the country in Baltimore sold raccoon back in 2009, in hipness years that is centuries ago. Detroit is making the rest of city dwellers in the U.S. uneasy, did they make a mistake when choosing a hip place to settle? Could raccoon, blight, and urban farms lead to a second great migration to Detroit? This time not in search of an industrial job but a badge to wear signifying that you live on the “edge”

  43. Dan
    Posted July 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    interesting that this popped up on the recent posts threads. Just yesterday they aired an old segment of the Howard Stern show about this. One of the writers on the show (Richard Christie, he of pranking “tradio” fame) grew up in rural kansas and was very poor. His dad used to (and still does) supplement his government assistance by hunting coon, and selling their pelts and meat. He would drive the carcasses to the ghettos of kansas city and sell the meat for a few bucks. Interestingly, he also said the same thing about the claws. People won’t buy them without because they think they are cats. Richard also said they used to eat them when the other hunting was poor, and that they were among the worst things he’s ever eaten (this is a family that regularly ate squirrels and possum)

    clip here (probably NSFW): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00-AJF7rWII

3 Trackbacks

  1. By stevendkrause.com » On rodent eating on April 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    […] First off, I’m pretty sure that the last thing that Southeast Michigan and Detroit needs in the paper right now is a story about the resourceful use of raccoons as food. “Come to Detroit for the Final Four; stay for the ‘coon.” Ouch. I think I like Mark’s take on this, for the most part. […]

  2. By Ypsi Coon Man on April 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    […] perhaps by our conversation a few days ago about the consumption of urban meat, our friend Black Jake has caught and slaughtered a groundhog… But, it seems, he has a […]

  3. […] history that others aren’t. He’s written of Detroiters forced by circumstances to catch and eat raccoons. He’s written of our local manufacturing infrastructure being auctioned off to China and […]

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