Wildlife Versus Vermin

Winter is in full force now, but fall is the restless time for deer. The bucks begin to follow the does in heat, and the hunters follow the bucks with the same goofy abandonment. During November, the deer travel between shelterbelts and graze the ditches in the road. I see them often on my gravel road travels to and from work.

Riding home one day, ReeRee and I ran across a herd of does, trailed by big horned bucks with curled-up lips. Deer don’t frequent our house like they used to. Damn vermin.

My mind wanders back to another November, Thanksgiving Day, actually. Before motherhood, I babied my dogs. My dog, Yacky, had recently passed on after a swimming accident in the stock tank (NO swimming without supervision should have been posted). But the sign wasn’t posted and, anyway, my dog couldn’t read. A fiery replacement Jack Russell terrier was brought home a month ago. Newt named the black terrier with spots of tan and white “Squirt”. Squirt was a tiny puppy freshly weaned from her mom. Like most small in stature, she suffered from Napoleon disease, or “short man syndrome”. To Squirt, she was a tall as the big dogs she wrestled with, as tough as the bulls she wandered through, and resilient to the claws of the big, grey tomcat.

I thought nothing as I let Squirt out of the house that morning. “Good dog! No mess in your kennel. Let’s go outside.” Squirt slipped out the door. A few minutes passed before I was dressed in warm coveralls and a ragged work coat. We were going feeding with Newt this morning, before heading to the in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner.

Then the panic hit. We called for Squirt, but only silence. We searched the lawn, the road, the chicken house. Nothing, except the herd of deer that holed up at our residence during hunting season. As we gave up and headed for the pickup, I saw her limp body behind the garage. (Note: I am not a nurse. I hate blood, guts, and anything in between.) Faint, I felt faint. She was still breathing as I rushed the black noodle in my hands to the house. Newt already had the vet on the telephone, when she started bleeding out her nose. “I’m sorry; there is nothing you can do. Her lungs have been crushed and are filling with blood.”

We found the evidence of her murder. Sharp V’s in the sod where she laid. The deer had been rutting around the house. A territorial buck chased Squirt and stomped her into the ground.

I don’t mind wild animals. I enjoy wildlife. But when they are invading my home and killing my dogs, I hold a grudge. Children make you realize such things, when they start repeating.

Back to the present, we pass the deer on the road. “Look ReeRee! Deer!”

ReeRee points out her window, “DeerBangBang.”

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