Friday, November 17, 2006

Opening Day Tomorrow!

As I sat at my kitchen table this afternoon, working on our volunteer ambulance fund drive, I was distracted by a movement in my peripheral vision. I glanced out the window and saw a majestic buck deer, over 200 pounds, with a huge 10-point rack. He ambled from my back yard into my next door neighbor's yard, and a minute or two later four does followed the same path. They loitered in my neighbor's yard for about 15 minutes before the buck moved off north-ward. The does came back through my yard enroute to their final destination of the day. Suburbia! Home of the most healthy semi-wild fauna!

I meet my three old friends at 5:45 tomorrow morning at a home about ten miles from mine - a home on the low-density fringe of suburbia where farms still dominate. By 6:15 I'll be at my favorite spot in a semi-dense bushy area where a small creek does 90 degree turn. Last year at that spot, 50 minutes into the season, I killed a nice 8-point buck. By the next day he was 120 pounds of boneless deerburger, heading for the local food bank. And there was one less deer for our local motorists to slaughter with their automobiles.

Some people wonder why the Christian ambulance man shoots innocent, beautiful creatures who are just minding their own business. Well, the answer is simple. There are virtually no predators for deer in our area, and the deer are everywhere. They eat the farmers' crops, they eat the suburban shrubs and flowers, and they injure and kill people when they fail to look both ways before crossing the road. There are far more deer in New York this year than there were when the white men bought Manhattan Island for some beads. Somebody's got to be the predator, and I guess it's up to me.

Is hunting a sport? Well, the deer are a lot smarter in the woods than I am. I figure I spend about 20 hours in the cold for every deer that falls to my shotgun. I don't take stupid shots that might wound the animal. And, when the season is over and there's some venison in the fridge, I have some feeling for what life was like in America not all that many years ago...dinner was out there, somewhere, if you were smart enough to find it.

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