Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blazing Gardens

This is SO not my color
I woke this morning to the sound of high caliber gun fire, four reports in rapid succession, very close to the house.  Once my grogginess wore off, I remembered....oh, that's right, it's the start of the annual madness known as gun-deer season.  How could I forget?

The shots were coming from the woods across the road. I don't know if they got anything or not, but this isn't the time of year to wander into the woods and ask.

I didn't get all the stuff done outside I'd hoped to, but for the next ten days, being outside is Risky Business.  Sure, I don the Blaze Orange jacket so the hunters can see me, but I have to remember the coat ain't Kevlar.  Bullets aren't forgiving.

As luck would have it though, the weather has turned cold; the high today is expected to be around 18 degrees, going down to 5 tonight.  And add to that, a brisk northwest wind steady at 17mph gusting to 26 and I'm not really crazy about working outside anyway. 

We had a little dusting of snow on Thursday night that didn't last, except some ice which formed where the shadows are deep in the trees.  And by the mailbox, I found to my dismay.  No, I didn't fall again (or should I say YET?) but when my feet slid out from under me on the patch of black ice, I found my adrenaline pump was working just fine.  Sheesh, that was close.

 I'm going to have to find those ice clamp/cleat/things I stick on my shoes again. I am a complete klutz on ice and being so nervous about falling makes me even more clumsy. 

Though it's so cold, the sun is shining which makes it tempting to finish up those last minute chores, but at least for the next few days, I will be staying in the house for the most part until the hunting frenzy is over.  I usually put off walking until after dark now, since hunting is prohibited after sunset.
On Tuesday I had a person stop in and ask if he and his hunting party could hunt on our farm.  I am usually at a loss for what to say to such requests, but I know how frustrating it must be to shoot a deer and have it fall on private land.  Though we are no strangers to firearms around here, none of my family hunts.  I'm not opposed to them hunting deer; they do a great deal of crop damage, so thinning the herd is necessary.

 I just don't want to be one of the 'herd' that is thinned, and I told the guy so.  At this moment there are a couple of strange pickup trucks in our Back Eight and hunters who knows where, waiting for a deer to cross their path.  I have to admit though, it's easier to see the hunters during blaze-orange gun season than during bow when they wear camouflage.  Apparently, deer are color-blind, though I have my doubts.  The deer are smart and don't come out of hiding until after dark, when shooting is illegal.  (Well, it's 'supposed' to be illegal, anyway.)

About twenty years ago (gads, I'm getting old...) we had an incident here with a hunter that made my hair stand on end.  It was around 10 AM and I was home alone, cleaning the bathroom sink when I suddenly heard extremely close shotgun fire.

 I looked out the window and saw a wounded deer trying to run up the lane by the windmill (at that time our trees were very tiny, so we could see down the lane) and there was a hunter in hot pursuit.  The man was a stranger and did not have permission to hunt our farm, but there he was, aiming that shotgun at the deer which by now had jumped into our Formal Garden and was struggling to get over the stone walls.

Not a place you'd expect to find a deer hunt in progress.
Another blast from the shotgun still didn't put the deer out of its misery; and it somehow managed to crawl out of the Formal Garden and end up in our River Bed about ten feet from our house.  In the picture below, see where the Girls are?  The white siding in the background is our house.

 That's where the deer ended up.  And still wasn't dead. 

Way too close for comfort.
By this time, I was more mad than terrified and opened the bathroom window to yell at the hunter.  He raised his shotgun one more time to finally end the deer's misery, but my yelling at him must have brought him back to his senses and he realized he shouldn't be shooting within ten feet of my house.

"Are you crazy??!" I hollered.  But then I realized this man was a complete stranger, armed with a deadly weapon and very agitated.  People do weird things when their adrenaline is pumping.  I finally said, "Well, finish it off, for cryin' out loud."

 To spare you any more gory details, he did, with a knife.  Then he sat down on my lawn and mopped his face, he was sweating heavily and seemed very shaken.  I was still standing in the bathroom with the window hanging open, and I was shaking, too.  He finally looked up at me and kinda, sorta apologized, but not really.  He took the carcass and dragged it across the lawn, through our front garden and out to the road ditch where he field dressed it (and left the entrails, thanks) and then disappeared into the woods across the road, leaving the carcass lie.  He retrieved his truck from somewhere, picked up the kill and left. 

Why didn't I call the cops?  I don't have a good answer for that.  We live in a rural area and our neighbors aren't near.  I debated calling the police but to tell you the truth, it all happened so fast and I was just glad it was over.  Though this happened over 20 years ago, I still remember it like it was yesterday.  And every time hunting season rolls around, I cringe.  Thankfully, we haven't had any more experiences like this, though those gun shots sure do get close.....

So when this new guy stopped in this past week and asked if it was OK to hunt our land, I told him the story above.  He was shocked and said I wouldn't have to worry about that happening with his party of hunters, they would be ultra-respectful of our safety and our property. 

I told him I was holding him to that promise.

But for safety's sake, I'm not going to run around in the woods until sometime in December.

I do pity the deer.


Alison said...

I pity the deer too. That was a scary story. Hope you and Carl manage to stay safe.

Alison said...

Also, I don't know if I've said this, but I'm so glad to see you back blogging more.

Missy said...

It sounds barbaric Karen. Are the deer such a menace that they need to be culled or is it just seen as some kind of sport by these people. Australia has gun laws outlawing the owning of firearms by those sort of cretins. It's one of the best things we ever did.

Pamela Gordon said...

What a scary situation you were in with that hunter. I can understand your reluctance to allow hunters on your property. The deer can run anywhere close to your house but the hunters can't shoot within a certain distance. (up here it's 200 yards) So, be safe and wear your hunter orange when you are about the yard even. Take care. Pam

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

One of the hazards of living in the country as you do. I hope you and yours will be safe for the next 10 days.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Anonymous said...

What an idiot. In his running pursuit, too bad he didn't drop from exhaustion. Sorry, I like deer and I do know they are a garden pest, but it is still sad to have them die such a death, especially since this guy was obviously not skilled with his gun.

Karen said...

Alison, thank you, I'm glad to be back, too. ;-)

Missy, the deer population in our area can become quite large. Last winter was particularly hard on the deer since it was so long and many died due to lack of forage. There are also many car/deer accidents, too. That said, yes, it is considered a sporting tradition here, but there are always a few bad apples that spoil the entire barrel. I hope with continuing hunter education, things improve.

Yes, Pamela, I believe we have the 200 yard rule here, too. Even that is close enough, isn't it? I keep my blaze orange handy.

Lorraine, yes, living in the country has it's cautions and we'll be cautious.

Donna, I agree with you. The guy was obviously not a hunter with any experience, the whole thing was a travesty.

El Gaucho said...

That is a really scary story. I'd like to think I would have called the cops, but like you said, sometimes things just happen so fast. It would have been nice to make sure that this guy didn't pull a stunt like this to some other homeowner. He obviously didn't have a clue what he was doing and was breaking numerous laws and ignoring a whole lot of common sense. Stay orange and safe!!

sharon malueg said...

Hi Karen
How are you