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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Dandy Doe

Hunter's Prayer
I the hunter, my senses alert,
My blunderbuss at my side
Shall go forth to vanquish the antlered beast
To make raiment from his hide.
His tender flesh shall grace my board
A magnificent, royal feast
His horny crown high up the wall
Shall honor the regal beast.
Now I pray my God be at my side
As to the woods I go -
And guide my steps and guide my aim
And the splendid beast laid low. - Bob Price

Everyone seemed to enjoy the lovely summer-like weather that we had for the first week of November. Everyone, that is, except the deer hunters. Deer apparently don’t move around much when it is that warm. The “rut” isn’t on; the deer aren’t out looking for partners, because they are too hot and lazy to mate. My hunter said that he is pretty sure he saw a buck rolling around on his back in the meadow, hooves in the air.
It’s an interesting perspective. Imagine. Being disappointed that it is unseasonably warm in November. Wild.
Some hunters came home from their hunt camps after the first week, bored and tired of waiting for hours in a tree stand for a deer that would never show. Others decided to make the most of the balmy weather, turning in their shotguns for golf clubs.
The Farmer and his hunting party headed to the St. Lawrence on Friday for a day of goose hunting instead. They enjoyed lunch over a campfire in the sunshine, but they didn’t fire a single shot. Apparently the geese don’t feel like moving much either when it is warm.
When the Farmer returned from his day on the shore, Betty and Ginger had a surprise for him. As if they were playing a bovine version of “Red Rover”, they had combined their strength (perhaps by linking limbs) and barged through the electric wire that the Farmer had strung in front of the hay store. Once recovered from the zapper, they proceeded to push on the huge sliding barn door until it busted clean off its hinges. I guess they were in the mood for hay. The cows tugged and nibbled on a few of the round bales, making a right mess. The Farmer was not impressed. It’s funny how the animals only seem to really act up when we aren’t home. It’s like they know when we are gone and after a certain number of hours they just can’t help getting into mischief. The Farmer spent most of Saturday repairing the damage they had caused.
As the sun began to set, he decided to take another walk around the property.
My hunter was just about to give up his gun, when Mother Nature gifted him with a big beautiful doe. We will have venison next week for Sunday dinner. And that’s one less deer to leap out of the fog in front of my car when I’m winding my way down our single-lane road.
When the Farmer shot the deer, he called me on the 2-way radio. I had already heard the shots, so I was prepared for the return of the triumphant hunter.
I donned an orange coat and walked down the tractor lane to meet him. The Farmer had hauled the deer up onto the front of his ATV and there she was draped, in all her glory.
I put my hand on her side. Her smooth hide was the exact gray shade of tree bark. This is the second deer I’ve seen the Farmer bring in. Last year it was a buck. I am always amazed that something so big and beautiful maintains such a secretive coexistence with us on our 200 acres. It’s like capturing a unicorn. Unlike many people that I know in the area who entertain deer on their property each sunrise and sunset, we rarely see our deer. Maybe the farm animals scare them away.
The Farmer watched me as I examined the deer. We both had tears in our eyes. It is always a humbling moment, I think, for a hunter. I’m no hunter but I understand the awe, and the mixed emotions. She was so beautiful.
I said a little thank-you to the doe, and stepped away from the ATV. Feeling brave, I offered to help my husband to lift the doe off the machine. When he untied the rope that restrained her, however, one of her long limbs slipped and an elegant high-heeled hoof tapped me. I jumped and screamed. And was consequently banished to the farmhouse.
I guess I’ll leave the dirty work to the Farmer.

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