Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Deer.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that the area around The Lair is infested with deer.
They're all over the pace on any given day, and yes, I do put corn out because I like to watch them.

I started it back when I got hurt because I had nothing else to do all day. I figured I'd put feed out, then I could watch them, and come hunting season, I could take one or two for the freezer.

Alas, come hunting season, I'd spent time sitting on my chair watching them every day. I could tell them apart, I knew which fawns had come from which does, and far too many of them had informal names. It just kind of happened, and by rifle season, the idea of harvesting them was off the table.

It's been going on for years now. While I loves me some good venison same as any other American, the ones that come into my yard and walk right up to the back door get a pass; they're protected and safe from harm, at least so long as the're in the yard. These are MY deer.

And they're pretty much tame, to be fair. When they hear me throw the corn, some of them--a pair of young bucks in particular, run down towards me like dogs at dinnertime. If there's no corn out there, the deer will often wait, backing off a bit when I come out to throw some, but never actually running off. They know I have corn only for them and they want if more than they fear me.

But this afternoon, as I looked out and saw deer looking for their snack, I noticed one of the deer--a doe--was limping. Looking closer, I could see that her left front leg was broken, flexing unnaturally every time she put her weight on it to walk. I could just make out bone protruding through the skin and I can only imagine what that has to feel like.

Actually, no. I don't have to imagine at all. I can identify with that deer. Only in the case of the deer, I know that there's no fix. No vet helicopter is coming and no doctor or hospital is going to set and cast that leg. She's going to keep hobbling on that broken leg in constant pain until she dies. Fuck.

I made my decision. As I hobbled up to the gun room on MY messed-up leg, I called the Sheriff's Dept. and let them know that I was going to put this deer down unless they wanted to come out and do it. As expected, they didn't want to, but they blessed my action on a recorded phone line as I selected a special rifle, turned on the optics, loaded and inserted the magazine, and made my way to the kitchen door. The deer was still there, just ten to twelve yards off. As I slid the door open, she looked at me like the deer always do when I step out to feed them. But then, inexplicably, she seemed to know that this time was different. As I brought the rifle up and took the safety off, she stepped back behind a couple of trees.

She didn't run away. The other deer that were around her picked up the same message and they left, but she stayed there behind those trees, watching me. I braced the rifle on the door frame and brought the sight to bear. For a brief second, she gave me a perfect straight-on chest shot, but as I centered the dot on her and took up the trigger slack, she stepped back behind the trees again, giving me just a glimpse of half of her head. I moved the dot up, but it wasn't enough of a target to take the shot at. I locked my arm in the sling and steadied the rifle, using the door frame as a rest. I just needed a bit more deer and I'd finish this. There was plenty of corn on the ground right in front of her, and as soon as she bent her head down to grab the first kernel...

But she didn't. She knew. Somehow she knew. And the deer that would have ignored me on any other occasion just stood there, watching me with one eye, the rest of her head and body behind those trees. And for over a minute, we stood there looking at each other, not ten yards between us, me with the safety off and my finger on the trigger.

And then she backed up, keeping the tree between us. And then she was gone. I sighed and put the safety back on, feeling like I'd failed that deer in a duty that I'd owed her.
Now it's dark outside. But the back lights are on and the rifle is hanging on my office door knob. I know that she'll come back, if not tonight, then tomorrow. She's part of the regular herd and she'll be back. And when she comes again, hopefully I can finish this. But then again, maybe she won't come back. Maybe one of the local stray dogs will take her down first since she's easy prey with that leg. Or maybe she just won't come back because she knows.


  1. I hope she does so you can finish this cleanly. She doesn't need to be in pain.

  2. Dang Murphy,

    That sucks all the way around. Even though you know it is the right thing to do, it still kills you so to speak to do it.

    1. Agree! God Bless you!
      This really sucks!

  3. Hopefully she doesn't come back. One less thing on the mind... Just sayin...

    1. I kinda hope not too. But I'll be waiting and watching all the same.

  4. Think of it as a job of work. Some jobs are more unpleasant than others. Still, the job needs done.

  5. A retired veterinarian told me that you have to be very careful with your thoughts when you are putting an animal down, because they can read your mind. Never lock your vision on one until you are ready to take your shot.

  6. Be thankful they gave you "permission" to do what needs to be done. Here in KY, they won't. "It'll be fine" or "Nature will have to take it's course." I disagree... why force an animal to suffer? My only suggestion is that once the deed is done, if laws allow (or there are no witnesses), don't let her go to waste....

  7. That sucks. As much as I real and scream and cuss them, I realized one day that I couldn't follow through on my idea of getting someone up here during bow season to take some of the herd that browses on my flowers and prevents me from having a vegetable garden. They are MY herd and I worry when one is limping or missing and smile when the fawns appear even though it's one more damn deer to trash my stuff.

  8. Thank you for doing this if she comes back. It is a terrible job to have to do.

  9. That is a hard one. But I hope for her sake that she does come back and you do get the shot. It's not easy on you though.
    If not, I hope that some hunter out there has the willingness to do what a friend of mine did one hunting season: pass over the big trophy buck to take the starving one on three legs.

  10. My game cameras this year showed a doe with her new born baby fawn. A little boy. I watched him grow up, and in November he had these little nubs of an antler starting.

    In December we found him on the road, dead. Car hit him.

    Yea it is sad.

    I kill only what I eat, and since I don't eat rabbits, squirrels, ducks, turkey, etc... well I guess I don't hunt much. Sure I hunt deer, and if one of them trips over me I might just shoot it. And yes we would eat it but well, they have to get that close to force me to fire.

    Sorry to hear bout the doe. Terrible thing to happen to any animal.

  11. Crap. Hard choice either way. I think taking the shot will be the easier of the two, though.