Here is a recent shot of our back meadow. I completely understand where Dad is coming from on his deer problem! This is a common view, usually even a few more! We enjoy our "wild herd" and harvesting a deer or two from our land every year. Thankfully the dogs keep them out of our flowers and veggies, but the gardens are VERY close to the house.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Sunday Stories by Bruce Mero: Snort
See how furry they are for winter? We have a happy herd of wild deer as they eat the corn from the farmer in front of the house and then cross the road to munch our meadow, into the grove of wild apple trees for more snacks and then go down to the creek for a drink!
By Bruce H. Mero
Given the genius of hindsight, I am able to explain some of what happened that mid-November afternoon, but only some of it. To this day, my actions remain to me inexplicable.
I am no longer a hunter, a hunter of deer, that is. I do occasionally challenge the red squirrels at our bird feeders with my Daisy BB gun and do kill the muskrats drilling holes in our pond bank with my ancient Target Master 22. Neither of these endeavors, however are really hunting, not to me. I enjoyed going after White-tail Deer when I was in my teens and early twenties, but once the shots were fired and the quarry felled, the fun stopped. I was averse to the rest of the process. Still am. Today, rather than hunt myself, we allow a few guys to hunt them on our farm. We have grown to hate the deer. Allowing hunting on our farm is our attempt to alleviate the damage those damnable critters do to our vegetable and flower gardens. In exchange, we get a few venison dinners from our hunters when they're successful. We have developed a taste for venison and take comfort in the knowledge that eating deer meat taken on our property, in a small way is pay-back for feeding our home-grown veggies to them all summer. Our daughter claims that this is the only way one should eat broccoli or kale...second hand...by eating the deer who ate it first in our garden. We like our cucurbits both ways. We despise the deer.
So, on that sunny afternoon, intent on doing who-knows-what, I rounded the corner into the upper pond meadow when forty feet in front of me I encountered a crotch-horn buck, nose down and headed for the apple tree I'd just passed. He looked up a couple of steps after I'd seen him and stopped in his tracks. Under normal conditions, he would have sprinted in the opposite direction. Under normal conditions, I'd have waved my arms and chased him back into the brush. Neither happened. Instead, he stiffened, looked me over and stood his ground. I stifled my fight-or-flight reaction, straightened and stood still also.
Now the hindsight I cannot explain. I've had the time to think about these next moments over the years. Prudence dictates that I should have reacted differently. At the time however, my reactions were instantaneous and absent any forethought.
Our little buck put his head down, pawed the ground two or three times and snorted his defiance. I stayed, in spite of also knowing that the only defense I had to muster was my apparent bravado and the little garden trowel I was carrying. Retrospect tells me that probably I should have done otherwise; still, I lowered my head, pawed the grass with my boot and snorted.
I looked up, expecting that I'd see his white tail fleeing the meadow. Instead, he stood, then cocked his head to the right and stared. He then took several defiant steps towards me, lowered his head, pawed the ground with his left hoof and snorted. He raised his eyes to see what I was going to do next, half expecting me, I surmised, to turn and flee. Rather, and I have no explanation, I took several equally defiant steps ahead, lowered my gaze, pawed the ground with my pack boots and snorted. I was really hoping to see the deer fleeing when I looked up, but he just stood there, seemingly perplexed. Less than twenty feet separated the two of us.
To my astonishment, he then repeated his several steps forward, nose to the ground. He shook his little horns at me and repeated his foot scraping and snorting routine. He straightened. I straightened and thought he was expecting that that little display had scared me off. Instead and defiantly, I lowered my gaze, stepped three of four paces forward, raked my foot on the ground several times and twice snorted. I had no horns to brandish at him, but I shook my head anyways; why is anyone's guess. I have no explanation, though, obviously common sense was no longer in control. When I looked up, he was still there and so close I could spit on him.
He stiffened, his muscles tensed. He shook his horns and stared. I was freaking. Surely he was going to charge and impale me on his spiky little horns and me with only a puny garden trowel to defend myself with if this stupidity went any further. Still, I stiffened and stood my ground. I put my hands on my hips and tried to make myself appear larger, though my knees were trembling and I peed myself a little. He snorted. I retorted. He snorted again then slowly turned and walked away. He never looked back and disappeared into the brush at the edge of the meadow. Regaining my knees and my composure, I also walked away. Whatever I had been doing with that garden trowel in the meadow was no longer important.