The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

How To Cook Possum

By Bob Heafner © 1991

Issue: May, 1991

In the years prior to this nation's great depression my father, Walter Arnold Heafner, was an avid possum hunter. He delighted in a good "tree dog" and loved the thrill of the chase. Although he never admitted to actually eating possum, or killing one for that matter, his stories of great dogs and hunting adventures fanned my imagination as a small boy.

After Dad's health eliminated his participation in hunts, he often would sit with my brother Ken and me in the shade of a summer evening or by the fire in winter and swap hunting stories. Ken and I, both teenagers, were avid rabbit hunters but we both listened and laughed as Dad related various incidents like the time an Uncle I won't name, got a little tipsy on a possum hunting expedition. Seems the dogs had treed a baby possum and Uncle had climbed a sapling pine tree and caught it. Deciding to keep it as a pet he carried it with him as they proceeded on the hunt. While carrying it along he absentmindedly twirled its tail around his finger. The possum obviously did not appreciate the disruption in his daily routine or having his tail twirled. While small, it was still big enough to bite and Dad recalled that every so often Uncle would grunt and complained this was the first possum he'd ever seen that carried scissors.

But enough about hunting possums this is about Dad's recipe for cooking a possum. First you must catch the possum live and pen it up and feed it corn and table scraps for at least two weeks. This is absolutely necessary to purge its system of any remnants of its less than sanitary dietary habits.

After the feeding and fat'n process is complete and the possum is reduced to a well cleaned and WASHED meat, you are ready to begin cooking it.

Begin by boiling the possum for at least two hours in a large pot filled with water. Every 30 minutes drain the grease from the water. When finished take the possum out of the water and thoroughly wash. Then place the possum on a large oak cooking board and place one pound whole kernel corn, two pounds peeled new potatoes, one pound carrots and half a dozen sweet potatoes around the possum on the board. Place in oven and bake for three hours at 325 degrees. Be sure to put a container of some kind under the cooking board because the possum is greasy and the grease will drip off the board in your oven.

When finished, remove the cooking board and contents from the oven, carefully walk at least one mile from your home (downwind) and scrape everything off the cooking board. Carry the cooking board home and thoroughly wash it. Eat the board.

Dad swore this was the only way he'd ever eat a possum.