My wife has a fascination with identifying road-killed critters, so in an attempt to pad our retirement nest egg (which I believe long ago tumbled from the nest and splattered on the ground) we decided to invent and market a family-friendly game to help everyone endure those awful road trips that are often punctuated by exclamations of “Don’t make me stop this car,” or “You just wait till we get home!” It’s a game of skill where players have to spot and correctly identify road-killed animals seen along the road. Welcome to the game of Road Kill Skills!
The rules of the game are really quite simple; a point value is assigned to all manner of animal carcasses, and the first player to spot and identify the carcass gets the points. The game begins when the vehicle leaves the driveway, allowing less skilled players to accumulate quick points for spotting easily seen casualties on city streets or in your driveway. We’re still tweaking the rules, so I’m not sure how something will score that you back over as you exit the driveway. If it’s the neighbor’s cat or a friendly neighborhood squirrel, it may be a deduction; after all we’re not monsters! Points are assigned according to a very scientific set of parameters, and the person riding shotgun will be the judge and have final say in any and all appeals.
The point values all depend on the degree of difficulty. In the Olympics, the diver who merely manages to enter the water headfirst without doing a belly-flop will score fewer points than the diver who twists and summersaults in every conceivable direction and texts a greeting to their mother on the way down. So it is with points in the Road Kill Skills game; the more easily identifiable the carcass, the fewer the points. Several factors should be considered when determining point values per carcass.
First determing factor will be the size of the carcass; the smaller the carcass, the more points it will be worth. For example, a large carcass of a Holstein cow will garner the player far fewer points than that of a possum or a squirrel. That brings us to the second determining factor, the condition of the deceased. The better condition the remains, the fewer the points. Again, an intact deer corpse not yet gnawed by coyotes will score far fewer points than that of a rabbit that’s in several pieces along the highway. That brings us to easily identifiable markings. Road killed skunks and raccoons which have tell-tale markings (or scents), no matter their condition, will be worth fewer points than rabbits or possums, simply because they should be a slam-dunk to identify even by the novice city-slicker. As a side note here, in the case of a skunk you can award bonus points to the first “smeller.”
In the real estate world, it’s all about Location, Location, Location, and another important factor determining point value of roadside carrion should be the body’s location. During the course of the game, you will probably travel a mix of four lane highways, single lane blacktop main roads and gravel side roads. In accordance with the criteria above, the harder roadside remains are to spot, the more points they are worth.
While discussing points for location of the carcass, perhaps a special category should be added to address point values of critters actually run down during the course of the game by the vehicle in which one is riding. Although drivers are not encouraged to participate while they drive, I’m of the opinion they should receive gratuity points if they run over a critter during the game and can correctly identify what they hit. Again, the smaller the varmint, the more points it should be worth. East side rules can apply here, as every situation will be different. For instance, if the driver has to back up to see what was hit, it might be seen as a deduction. But if something is actually run over while backing up to see what was hit, it could mean double bonus points. If the driver has to stop and pry the carcass from beneath the car, maybe the rules should automatically suspend the match while the driver calls the insurance company.
The “location” category would not be complete without awarding points for the remains of road-killed carrion still on the road. Here the rules can get fuzzy; until now, the larger the body, the fewer the points. But it seems only fitting to award bonus points for large carcasses still on the roadway, as the driver might have to execute some Dale Earnhardt maneuvers to keep from running over them. And if the players in the car are able to correctly identify the remains while careening down the road like passengers in a tilt-a-whirl gondola, their skills should be aptly rewarded. A word of warning to players here, please don’t ever remove your seatbelts during the game, as we must stress safety at all times! Bear in mind all the above suggestions are for matches played during daylight hours, so points awarded to participants after dark should be increased appropriately.
Nothing says family vacation fun like an enjoyable game to pass the time while in the car, and a lively game of Road-Kill-Skills might just be the ticket. Come up with your own point values, develop your own categories and rules or simply follow the suggestions above. Levels of achievement can be set just like in Candy Crush. Points can be redeemed for Dairy Queen treats, McDonalds cheeseburgers or for those with stronger stomachs, beef jerky at gas stations stops. What a great way for the entire family to get off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]