Friday, January 4, 2019

I Miss the Deer


I took that picture from our host's dining room on Saturday, the 29th of December. Where he lives is very rural and rather hilly. Not something I expected being so near the Naval Academy. There are deer all over the place where he lives. Shortly after I took the photo, our host informed me that he had seen at least eight deer under that tree just a moment before.

That big lady on the right, she spotted me as soon as I went up to the window to take the photo. Cautious creatures they are, but in our host's neighborhood they are very used to people. We were walking The Nuke's hounds one morning and came across five deer near a feeding location (one of the neighbors feeds them). The dogs were all like, "What the heck are those? Can we chase them? Mom, come on, can we chase them."

The Nuke has her dogs well trained, she says sit, they sit, she says jump...

No, they don't ask "How high." But if they could speak English, I have no doubt they would. While the deer were distinctly nervous, they didn't run off. Bear and Kodi are rather large dogs too, but like I said, well behaved. So we all kinda sat there eyeballing each other from a distance of less than fifty yards. Reminded me rather of my youth.

I've encountered deer in the forest at very close range many times in my younger days. If they can't smell you, they don't feel really threatened (if they do, they run, very fast, in the opposite direction). Make no sudden moves and you can stare away. On The Missus Herself's first trip to the U.S., Christmas of 1980, she wanted to go up into the woods at the ancestral home of Yours Truly.

It was an overcast day, lots of fresh snow on the ground, and a tad chilly. Typical of Vermont in December back then. Not a hundred yards into the woods and I whispered to her to stop moving and look to her right. About a hundred feet away were a group of deer moving through the woods. They looked well-fed and healthy, they also looked really handsome in the snow against the backdrop of the pine trees.

"Wow!" she said.

"Pretty aren't they?" I asked.

"Yeah, can we pet them?" she wondered.

"Only if you can catch them." I answered.

It wasn't the first time that my love gave me the "you're an idiot" look, certainly wasn't the last.


We went down to Barnes & Noble on Thursday, I had a gift card burning a hole in my wallet. I saw a lot of Christmas trees out by the curb, somehow they reminded me of casualties on some recent battlefield.

Last week, they stood proudly in peoples' homes, decorated, lit by twinkling lights. Many of them had had children beneath them on Christmas morn, opening presents, laughing their childish laughter, happy and innocent. Now they are discarded, awaiting the trash truck, to no doubt be ground up into mulch. (I've written of discarded Christmas trees before.)

It saddens me to see Christmas pass. It always has. I'm a sentimental old sot, always have been, probably always will be. I've also noticed that many homes no longer light up their exterior Christmas displays. There are five houses in my neighborhood, mine included, to which that does not apply.

My lights will be lit until Epiphany, we'll light them up on this coming Sunday, then they will vanish to storage for another year.

I don't suffer from post-holiday depression, because I know the real meaning of the holiday. It's always there, in my heart, I just wish the rest of the world could hold that spirit of giving, joy, and love the year round.

But like I said, I'm sentimental.


As vacation winds down, I think back over the last two weeks and think of all the fun I've had. (No, New Year's Eve and the adventure of flights 5036 and 5557 don't count.)

While I had been somewhat disappointed to spend only one night in Alexandria, after a day or so, the bucolic setting for our Annapolis Christmas really grew on me. The other day, back home in Little Rhody, we heard a police siren, The Missus Herself remarked that she had not heard a single one of those where we spent Christmas.

The beautiful countryside was lacking in any sort of urban noise, notwithstanding the occasional jet heading into Baltimore reminding us that civilization wasn't that far away. It was a wonderful Christmas down there.


While I do miss the deer, the cats are ecstatic that we're home. That was the longest we'd ever been away from them in 15 years. So the past couple of days they've been rather clingy. Home is good, no matter where it is.

If my cats are happy, if The Missus Herself is happy, then I am happy.



38 comments:

  1. The deer learned where the neighborhood bird feeders are and make their rounds.....the tall woodrats. One of my neighbors travels UpNorth for gun deer season but is lucky to see deer tracks, I tell him to stay in the hood and try his luck there....chuckle....New Year's day, Christmas tree came down and the carpet was vacuumed of the needles. Nowadays you'll hear sirens EVERYWHERE, even the gated communities can't block that out.

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    1. I swear the local constabulary turn the sirens on when making a donut run.

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    2. Having watched the drunks at play in Rhode Island on national tv (LivePD)(Warrick, RI) and Rhode Island being a northeastern state inhabited by Yankees and the occasional retired AF personnel and spouces, well...

      It would be surprising to not hear sirens all day and night. :)

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    3. Little Rhody has its fair share of idiots and drunkards. I'm surprised the cold doesn't drive 'em south.

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    4. I live across from the Air Force Academy, and see deer and turkey all the time. I am sometimes amazed at how little they are fazed by humans. They simply do not care.

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    5. We have turkey here in Little Rhody as well, those modern dinosaurs are everywhere.

      Had one dispute the right of way with me once on the way to work. I only wanted one lane, she wanted two. After I passed her, she actually chased my car for a bit. Then she got mad at the BMW behind me who had beeped his horn at her. Kinda funny to see a bird in a standoff with an expensive German ride.

      Yeah, deer have attitude.

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  2. Oh,the deer are pretty creatures! Here in the Texas Hill Country we have them in our yard the year long. We have both the White Tail Deer and the "alien species" Axis Deer (that escaped the fenced exotics ranches). Again they are pretty but... They eat about anything we plant including plants that are supposedly repellent to them. I think the only thing they have not touched are the Oleanders which are poison to most every creature. We are going to put up a 6 foot chainlink fence to discourage them coming into the backyard we are creating behind our new house on our five acre holding. However we have been told it too is only a deterrent; deer have been seen jumping fences up to 8 feet high from a standstill. I guess that is how it will be.

    I remember when I was young that we would put up the Christmas tree, a cut tree, just a day or two before Christmas, not out of procrastination but because that was the Tradition. It came down on Epiphany (or maybe the day before) and joined a big pile at the church or another designated location. After evening Epiphany services there was a big bonfire and party. Back in the 1990's we did that at a church we attended that was within city limits. Had it all worked out with the fire department but somebody called and the big red engines rolled up. It was explained to them, so they stayed for the drinks and refreshments.

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    1. Ah yes, people who import non-native species to a place. That never seems to go well.

      Ask the Australians about rabbits.

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    2. An exception is the pheasant, important to the Dakotas in the fall, also state bird of South Dakota. Good eating too!

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    3. Interesting, originally an Asian species, neh?

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  3. I love to "miss" deer. The problem is they don't love to "miss" me. They tend to pull lead. Like BillB said, they're a menace down here. There are at least 75 that inhabit the forested area between our property and the highway. I've had to stop and wait as all 75, one by one, transit the road with no interval sufficient to allow passage. Mostly Axis, but quite a few white tail mixed in. Now we're seeing Oryx mixed in that herd. Pretty creatures but with a dark gray top and white belly, they're a bear to see at night. Lived here 20 years, paid a $500 deductible in the majority of those years. USAA doesn't even question you when the conversation begins with "I hit a deer", other than "Are you all right?" and "Is the vehicle driveable?"

    So, my Friend, I'd be happy to ship you as many as you would like. No refunds, No returns, though.

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    1. Oryx? Are you kidding?

      Further confirmation of my theory that most people are morons. Not evil, just morons.

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    2. Did you at least get to eat the fruit of your spoils, so to speak?

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    3. Beans, I'm not sure that Steamed Venison marinated in antifreeze served with Road Rash Hash and with burst intestine sausage sounds appetizing.
      The state takes it? Maybe in your neck of the woods. We have buzzards and Caracara. The do a pretty good job, although they do, occasionally, attempt to take off above maximum gross weight. They really stink bad when you hit them. Yes, I know that for a fact.

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    4. I'm guessing you're talking highway speeds. Up in my old neck of the woods the collisions were usually slower. Often the animal was still alive after the collision, but badly hurt.

      I came upon a scene like that in northern Vermont. Car with NY plates in one ditch, badly injured deer in middle of the road. No humans were hurt but the car was stuck pretty good, also had a pretty stove in fender, not sure if it was driveable. I did what I could.

      This was in the days before cell phones. I had to go to the next town and call the state police from a phone booth.

      It was a miserable night for all concerned. Especially the deer.

      In Vermont, back in the day, the state would collect the animal, if it was salvageable, some of 'em (like you say) weren't, they'd take the carcass to a local butcher and the meat would go to low income families.

      Vermont being what it is today, the meat probably goes to waste and the low income families eat steak on the taxpayers' dime.

      I wouldn't know.

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  4. Here in Wisconsin, deer are considered evil. They cause immense amounts of damage to farmer's fields, and thousands of car deer accidents. Evil, evil creatures. We hates them, we hates them, we hates them FOREVER!

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    1. My mom hit 2, totaling one car once. She was injured too as she spun and flipped on ice afterwards. I hit one in my bug, but only smashed in the fender and broke the windshield. Damn thing got up and ran off. No venison for me.

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    2. StB - You have too many. No doubt the tree huggers prevent culling of the herd. Meat which would feed the hungry.

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    3. Tuna - They are a huge hazard to navigation in many states, again it's because there are too many. We hunted their predators to extinction and legislated the hunting of them to insignificance. Maybe it's why the coyotes are popping off all over the place?

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  5. We would see deer almost daily up in Oregon (outside of hunting season), but only the occasional rabbit or racoon in SanDog. My kids are amazed at wildlife when we visit Oregon since it's rare to never for them city dwellers.

    By the way, now I can't see any of your pictures! No matter which browser I use. Hmm. Then again, I'm at work and who knows what configuration NMCI has going today. I think I know what was wrong with my NYD post- I had opened and copied the pictures from my computer, then pasted them into blogger. Later, when I "fixed" it, I uploaded normally. Not sure why that would matter, but maybe it did.

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    1. There are times when pictures on the Internet refuse to show up at work. Especially with IE, the bane of my online existence.

      There are more deer now in New England than when the Pilgrims landed. Though they tend to be smaller than back then. The original inhabitants kept their numbers in check. The wolves helped as well.

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    2. Blogger handles things weirdly when imported from outside. I don't know how many times it took to realize that cut-and-paste text is going to get wonkyfied going from Word to Blogger.

      I have never been successful in cut and pasting photos, always have had to import them. By the way, never got to tell you that the NYD photos are nice. You all are good photographers out there in California, Texas and Maine (did I remember Maine? I mean Rhode Island...)

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    3. Maine? I like Maine, check that, I love Maine.

      Everything is weird in Word.

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  6. Skittish animals, but I once came across one on the golf course that would not leave as I approached my ball. As I got closer and it did not run I realized that thing was pretty big, had real hard sharp hooves and could probably kick my ass. I was relieved when it finally ran away.

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    1. Some of them have bad attitudes, I can attest to that.

      I can't believe the deer wouldn't let you just play through.

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  7. Deer seem to know when and where they’re safe ...except when crossing the road.

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    1. I’m not a big fan of early Christmas decorations. But I’m a huge supporter of the 12 days. There are currently at least seven trees and multiple elves, snowmen, and nutcrackers.

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    2. Too early is too much. Too many people let commerce dictate when Christmas is.

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  8. Checked out places to live around San Antonio and Memphis and other places and found neighborhoods utterly overrun by deer with signs on the street warning drivers not to hurt their deer. I decided Encinitas was better and stayed. X took my daughter later and moved to Texas. I guess she likes deer. She left after a little while. Short of the feelzz there is no reason to tolerate giant wild animals in your front yard. Let us try once again to pretend we got civilization. It used to cost something. Now, not so much. My maternal family has a hasty way with game animals and they keep a rilfle propped by both front and back doors. They have a powerful dislike for squirrels and rabbits.

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    1. Not all meat comes wrapped in plastic........

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    2. Cap'n - A pox on civilization, it's why deer are overrunning some locales.

      A lot depends on where one's front yard is.

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    3. Nylon12 - No meat comes wrapped in plastic, just sayin'.

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  9. As I read this post this morning running out the door, I looked up and out the eating area window and there, across the creek and on the other side of the west pond, (about 75 feet away) was a big doe, and her fawn from this past spring, standing on the bank looking at me listening to my morning meeting, drinking my tea. They are pretty to look at, and pretty good eating as well.
    When Hubbie hit the deer with my car, it was $8000+ of damage, and I learned that it is a good habit to always carry a bottle/flask of water, and to grab a jacket or coat as you are headed out the door, even if the weather is sunny. Cause ya never know when you will be standing on the side of the road, swishing glass out of your mouth, and needing a jacket. We didn't take that one home as there was no room in the freezer. Lots of folks around here will slit the backbone skin and cut out the back straps and take them.


    I just looked it up and per the DNR here in MI, 376,000 deer were harvested in 2017, the most recent numbers available. Over 500,000 hunters.

    No wonder opening day of deer gun season is an unofficial state holiday--schools are closed, businesses shut down, the whole nine yards. Of course the deer all head for the roads, all the hunters are in the woods!!

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    1. Hunting is a needed thing, something a lot of tree huggers don't understand.

      Many deer starve in the depths of a bad winter. Not enough food to go around. Hunting helps keep the numbers down. Better for the herds, better for the species.

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  10. Sarge, seems to me that, that day back in 1980, the Missus should have instead given you the "OK, you're right, I'm an idiot" look. You were, after all, telling the truth.
    Maybe her aim isn't so good.
    --Tennessee Budd.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)