BALANCING ACT:   Here a deer, there a deer

Staff writer

If Old McDonald made Marion County his farm, his biggest crop would be whitetail deer. They seem to crop up everywhere these days, in the field, along the hedge, and yes, in the front grill of many a vehicle.

Even though just about every vehicle my family has owned in the past has collided with a deer at one time or another, I am still amazed when I see one up close.

It is still a thrill when out of the shadows, a deer comes bounding from the ditch, making a beeline for the other side of the road.

Once my husband and I were driving our white Toyota pickup down a less-traveled road cut deep between two ditches about three feet high on each side of the road. What a thrill to see the whites of those buck eyes, just seconds before realizing he was going up and over us.

The underside of a deer is white, not as white as the whites of his eyes when he leaps over the top of you, but still, white, and pretty cool looking from underneath.

A less favorite deer encounter happened several years ago when I was driving our multicolored GMC Sierra pickup.

The truck had a paint job second to none. After three deer with less than stellar intelligence banged into the side of it, we learned just how much a paint job like that cost to redo.

What stupid deer! I saw the first of four coming full tilt toward the road. I thought I did the right thing and slowed down. Wrong! The next three deer banged right into the truck just behind the driver’s side door.

Ever since then I have really enjoyed eating venison gathered by the hunters in my family. I figure I have more than paid for it.

Despite the trouble they cause, I still enjoy seeing deer in the wild. I am amazed at how such large creatures can co-exist with humans without being seen for almost an entire year, and suddenly boom, out of the woodwork they come during rut season in November.

No one has to feed, water, or give them shelter. They just survive on their own, and usually end up looking pretty fat and sassy by fall.

I have to admit it makes me rather mad that I have to go to so much work to keep our animals contained. We invest so much time in chores while the deer simply do as they please, go where they please, and eat what they want.

Our two horses are with me on feeling a bit put off with the local deer population. More than once I’ve looked out my kitchen window to see the horses streaking across the back pasture, chasing deer away from the water tank or even the pond. Nothing gets the horses quite so wound up as deer invading their territory.

Thank goodness for that. One evening my husband and I went for a walk through the pasture and up a waterway to return a CD to his parents.

It was fall, it was almost dark, and what was to be a quick little walk, turned out to be much, much more … thanks to a crazy buck in rut!

When I first heard that wild snort, I did not believe my husband that it came from a deer. What kind of creature makes a weird sound like that?

Of course, he thought it was hilariously funny when we next heard stomping footsteps and I hid behind him, sure it was the boogie monster out to get us.

By that time it was pitch black out, perfect for him to try his new night-vision goggles. Of course, I could see nothing, but my husband got quite excited when he focused in on what was following us up the waterway. It was a big many-point buck.

By this time, I realized we had no weapon of protection with us, save the glasses and my cell phone. Thinking I could scare the big deer off with a little noise, I called myself so the cell would ring.

The buck kept coming, snorting, bellowing, and seeming to be extremely angry at this point.

I was certain we were going to be mincemeat and impaled on angry deer horns. My husband was dreaming of looking that bad boy in the eye and riding him to the moon. Thank goodness the horses came to the rescue.

In the pitch-black darkness, we heard thundering hooves coming from the barn lot, up the creek, and through a gate to the field. They couldn’t reach us and the buck, but they made enough noise for that buck to think twice about attacking us.

The ground shook as the horses thundered by in the dark; and when they were gone, so was the deer.

That experience was enough to make me think twice about raising farm animals verses wild. No deer sanctuary going in at our place anytime soon. I’ll stick to horses, cattle, and goats. They might cost me an arm and a leg in feed and fencing, but at least we don’t have to wear them on the front bumpers of our vehicles.

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