White tail deer. There’s no greater herbivore to keep me humble in my niche on the circle of life and there’s no sign of the attraction me and my kind have for them once we get in a vehicle and make our way down the highway.
A lot of folks recently have been confirming predictions of the annual (forgive the pun) spike in deer vs. car accidents. They have been hit hard by deer this fall (literally). I am with you brothers and sisters.
I faintly recall putting fruit trees in the ground anticipating a bounty from edible landscaping. That was decades ago, and I think about enough fruit has made it to make two cobblers. The remainder has been nibbled to oblivion by the furry, hoofed ones which routinely stroll across my lawn. I’ve even had to call off my dog, (a pom) before it was stomped by a deer which wouldn’t give ground. I’ve turned around, pondering a passage from some book, to discover a “peeping doe” looking in my living room window. (Makes you think of the phrase “peeping tom” differently doesn’t it?)
I remember once the security light went out and I was walking by faith and not by light down the driveway when a bellow and a snort from way too close froze me in my tracks. Scary. Just because something eats plants doesn’t mean it’s peaceful.
I quit hunting when I was out one fine day and a hunter using sonar to sight his rifle blew away a bit of the rise I was on. I decided then and there no jerky was worth that. So I can’t hearken back to the old venison in the crock pot days of my youth. Frankly, I’m outta practice. I was taught hunting was for food and not fancy.
Number One Son (Matt) carries on this tradition. He is an absolute deer magnet once you get him in a car. I have the repair receipts to prove it. A lot of readers have told me they have been hit hard by deer this fall (literally). Matt is also unnaturally beset by squirrels, but that’s another story. Along the way he’s learned a thing or two about deer. I can remember one particularly robust doe I caught in the front yard with two feet on an apple sapling munching to her heart’s content.
I yelled. I clapped my hands. Her brow furrowed as she struggled to understand why I would have any problem with her. After all, the only logical reason for so many tasty plants around the house had to be because I loved deer and simply couldn’t provide enough free salad bar for them. She didn’t take a step. Her tail twitched. Her head moved to the side and reminded me of Josey Wales giving me the choice of pistols or whistling “Dixie.”
For a moment, I considered walking up to her, getting some nostril and showing her some frontier-style harshness. Lonesome Dove style. Fortunately for me, words from family who regularly dine on venison came to me. I remembered the stories about how sharp deer hooves and antlers are.
“I got this dad,” said Matthew from behind me. The lad gracefully took his car keys out of his pocket and rattled them. The doe went wide-eyed and plowed down a large swath of brush as it left the yard. He explained he had tried all manner of sounds and even beat on a gasoline can before he found out the herd around our house didn’t like the tinkling of keys.
Maybe deer are subtle after all. I remember George, a sportswriter friend of mine, telling me he thinks bucks are learning masking scents mean something bad is going to happen. I especially liked the script he came up with where a wise buck asks a young one what he smells. The upstart says he only smells fresh dirt. “Remember that. When you smell that, fresh dirt….somebody dies,” the old buck replies.
It was a deer, making a bad decision to match my bad decision and take out a side of my beloved, tattered, white Saturn sedan. Sure, I found a fender but the impact set up an avalanche of things breaking in the little car that one evening my mechanic put an arm on my shoulder and gave me the “I’ll shoot old yeller for ya” look. I miss that car. I had hoped to run in it until I wore the wheels off the rascal.
I guess it’s a perfect storm. Bad weather, wildlife moving into new areas for food and less hunters. Even the wasting disease and hemorrhagic fever didn’t take them out. I’m just going to have to concentrate on getting ready for winter and leave the furry rascals to their own devices.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.