This morning I took a walk in the woods. It was particularly beautiful, a crisp and colorful autumn day. The water ran high in the streams; the sun warmed my back. I wore earphones and sang off-key to the Rolling Stones, pumped my arms, and enjoyed my day off. I knew that overflowing gutters awaited me.
I don’t mind cleaning gutters. I have a long hook that I use to scrape the schmootz out of them. Typically a lot of it lands on my head and clothing, so I have to take a hot shower when I’m finished. Occasionally, I find ticks on my arms. Best to get those off sooner rather than later to avoid Lyme disease. Ah, life in the woods.
Unfortunately, there was a dead deer lying next to my front door. I’m not sure how I missed him when I went out, and last night it was dark when I arrived. But when I arrived back home after my walk, there he was, lying in the midst of the gorgeous blanket of red leaves dropped by the Japanese maple. Dead. I screamed a little. This was a large deer. Quite large.
I went into the kitchen and paced a bit. Hyperventilated. Did a few laps around the island. Then I made a plan.
I would remain calm.
First I called the Chikaming Township office. The nice lady there didn’t know how to help, but referred me to the Harbert Police Department. The Police Department answering machine took my message. They have not yet returned my call.
Then I sat down at my desk and studied the situation through the window. The deer died not far from the bait houses that Franklin Pest Control left outdoors to try and control the mouse population that makes its way indoors into my home each year. Naturally, my first thought was that the deer had died because I’d okayed the mouse bait, and the deer ate the mouse bait, and now I’m a deer killer. I’m okay with being a mouse killer. But that’s pretty much where I draw the line. Guilt crept in.
I emailed my neighbor Liz for the name of a different exterminator. Perhaps one that is more humane. One whose mouse extermination program has fewer unintended consequences and doesn’t make me feel like I’ve killed Bambi.
Then I called another neighbor. Mike. Blessed Mike. I told him my situation. Or rather, our situation. He asked if the deer was still warm. AS IF I’D CHECKED!!! He said he would be happy to take care of it. He was out shopping, but he would stop by and remove the deer from my front yard. And if the deer was fresh, he would butcher it. I told him he was welcome to all the venison he could eat.
Then I went and had a massage. My TMJ is so bad I can barely open my mouth.
When I got home, the deer was gone. Mike had already dealt with it.
Mike stopped by shortly after and showed me where he’d taken the deer, into the woods across the road. I could still see him. He said the animal had been shot in the hind leg. He’d been dead 36-48 hours; he was already “gassy”. Which explains why he appeared so big around. The poor thing was a 6-point buck that Mike knew; he used to feed him in his back yard. Whoever shot him didn’t bother to track him. So the animal not only suffered, but his meat also went to waste.
Mike also mentioned that deer season doesn’t start for another week. So shooting this buck had been illegal, perhaps the reason it wasn’t tracked.
Liz called and told me that deer don’t eat what’s in those bait houses. They only eat green things. I think I actually knew that.
I’m feeling a little better now, and particularly lucky to have such wonderful neighbors. It seems odd that the buck chose my front yard as his final resting place, but perhaps he’d been here before. Perhaps he’s the one who’s been eating my hydrangeas all summer. After all, he died right beside them. If so, then this must have felt like home.
The gutters can wait until tomorrow.