Wait, that’s not how the expression goes.
Sunday evening, on the way home to Rockport from Danvers, I saw a deer that had been struck dead on the side of 128. It made me super sad. It also made me worry about the driver who had hit it….as that is never good either.
It also reminded me of a time a couple of years ago that Freddy, the boys, and I were driving home from New Hampshire and ended up behind a guy with his dead deer trophy strapped casually to the back of his Jeep like it was a Thule or a bike rack. Previously, I had only seen deer under tarps or in the back of pick-up trucks. Never ever plain as day on the back of a car, in the middle lane of a large highway. I’m not sure why it struck me as so out of the norm, but it did.
Please allow me stop here for a moment and say that I understand hunting and realize that there are merits to it for population control and certainly out of a necessity to feed a family. As a sport, simply for fun, I still don’t have to like it. This post is not intended to start a hot debate about whether it is OK or not….it is simply to retell a story. So, I’m not going to go all “anti-hunting” on you….that being said, don’t feel the need to go all “pro-hunting” on me. I should add that I just finished reading one of my favorite books ever, My Side of the Mountain, to my students….in which young Sam Gribley hunts and kills many deer and an abundance of other animals to survive in the woods. I should mention too that I am the proud owner of two German Shorthaired Pointers, and, while our “bird dogs” don’t hunt, I enjoy hearing stories about their “friends” who do. It seems hypocritical for me to say “it’s ok to shoot a turkey, a pheasant, or a quail, but not a deer” so I don’t.
I’ve also been on sport-fishing boats and have caught tuna, mahi-mahi, and marlin, and have felt super sad as the color drained from their previously gorgeous bodies. It seems hypocritical for me to say “it’s ok to catch large fish, but not a deer” so I don’t. A dear friend of mine (no pun intended) who passed away a couple of years ago, was an avid hunter and we agreed to disagree on the subject. He teased me relentlessly about his “Gut Deer” (as in Got Milk) sticker on the back of his truck.
I also remember being at an airport in Africa with my camera gear all ready to “shoot” the Big 5 in Namibia and Botswana and standing behind people fully loaded with giant guns all ready to shoot some of those very same magnificent creatures. Again….I’m sure there are valid arguments for that….but, I don’t have to like it. And, in the case of large African mammals, I really don’t like it.
But, I digress….big time.
Back to the deer on the Jeep.
My concern upon seeing the deer was mostly that I didn’t want my boys to see it. They were maybe two and four at the time. My husband slowed down a bit and changed lanes so that it wasn’t as easy to spy. At the same moment, a little teeny car came flying by us, with an even teenier driver blaring her horn, screaming, and waving her middle finger wildly at the driver of the Jeep. She was so incredibly upset and passionate. I remember being proud of her….but yet, oddly, feeling bad for the hunter too. Her anger was so deep and….dare I say, mean. That sounds crazy, right? Me calling her mean for her rage against the hunter. It seemed like such a personal attack. She was so emotional and enraged. I remember feeling kind of confused by the whole encounter. It bothered me for days, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
To go back to Africa…. I was confused in the same way that I felt on Day #3 of safari, when I found myself rooting for the cheetah to catch and kill the impala because I knew there were babies to feed. Days #1 and #2 I was cheering for the prey…not the predator… but, that changed upon seeing the hungry little ones. Surely the impala had hungry little ones too? Knowing who to root for was hard…so I opted to not align myself with either side of the hunt, but to simply watch it unfold…sometimes through the tiny cracks between my fingers that were covering my eyes.
So, all this had been spinning in my head as I thought, “Blog worthy or not?” and then I sat on the couch and saw a video of a deer attacking a hunter that a friend had put on Facebook…. and I laughed…. and then I felt really bad for the hunter. Full circle.