Inspection- Oh, DEER, What Could the Splatter Be?

by Ken Carman

Massachusetts: a deer was hit by a car, bounced and went through the windshield of a school bus, landing in the driver’s lap.
 This edition won’t make some happy who consider themselves pro-gun rights.
Inspection This edition won’t make some happy who are considered to be anti-gun.
 This edition won’t make those whop are anti-hunting happy
 All these terms are over generalizations: a different topic.
 Those who don’t care much for hunting too often are painted with having the “poor Bambi syndrome.” Those who love hunting are too often painted with the trigger happy, drunk, “let’s party first” guys who are loathed by any true hunter.
 I come from a family that hunted every year. We didn’t go out with major fire power. My father had an M1, my brother various guns: most memorable a Carcano. You know: the Kennedy killer bolt action rifle that used military ammunition. Not highly reliable. Not highly accurate, even with a scope because it had a tendency to misfire and had a poor workmanship problem. A surprise how well it did, considering. I had, well have, a single shot .43 Spanish Remington Rolling Block that is retired: the barrel brittle and ammunition/shell pretty much extinct.
 Hunting for us was more about being out in the woods, communing with nature… getting that one buck was pretty much secondary. Not that it was unimportant, just somewhat less important.
 We hunted around the Old Forge, NY, area. The small hamlet where I graduated public school in 72, where my father graduated in 33, has changed in one way more than any other. When I was younger it was the rare deer came into town and stayed in town. People thought it amazing that the normally timid creatures would creep up to my grandmother at Bisby Gate to be fed using a baby bottle. This was miles from downtown and in a very remote location. Now you find deer in downtown Old Forge sometimes in the middle of the street in the fall, running across the road; sometimes hit by less than wary tourists, or locals because no one can perfectly predict what a wild animal will do at any chosen time. The tourists may love them. To be honest they can be a nuisance.
 Why the change? Well, Bambi’s mother, and especially father, really need not fear the hunter’s gun as much. They’re out there, but gone are the days where hunters proudly stood at the railroad stations with plenty of deer awaiting the venison pot, a wall mounting. By the way deer can be quite dangerous: hooves can do bodily harm and those antlers aren’t there for decoration. Re: “dangerous:” bears even more so. Do NOT piss off a bear.
 The other reason for deer in town: sorry Grandma Carman, but people are feeding them. The other day on the north side of town deer came to a big ‘buffet’ that had been set out for them. Drivers dodged and swerved. You really need to be slow and hold back until they make up their minds, and while they’re not squirrels who literally deserve their namesake pejorative: “squirrelly,” you still can hit one without intent.
 Of course bears are coming into town: even more rare back then. That has more to do with the closing of the dumps: the reason bear meat was close to being inedible when I was young.
 One answer is, of course, stop feeding them. Have something like what we have in Eagle Bay: a hut with strong locks and light electric current running through discouraging bare wires good for the bears. They might break in for food. I helped my father enough times when the job was to un-shred the inside of a shredded cabin. A bear will do anything for food. One year a bear dined in an outhouse at midnight on a camp site at Moss Lake. Smart enough to drag a rock to prop the door open. I kept very, very , very quiet in case he decided I would be the tastier morsel.
 Some methods of discouraging them might not be great options. On an exceedingly dark day I remember stepping on a ‘bear trap’ my father’s wife had set out: a piece of plywood with rusty nails where a welcome mat would be. The idea was to prevent the ravaging of a cabin by a hungry bear breaking in. It happens. My reaction, “Oh, good, you had a bear at the door who steps on rusty nails. What do you have now? An ANGRY bear at your door.”
 I’ve heard it can work, just not sure it’s wise.
 Another answer is more hunting. Ethical hunting. I am very anti the few hunters who went out back when I used to hunt, usually liquored up, to get as many deer, no matter what sex, size or age, as they could… and sometimes the occasional fellow hunter. My father was shot in the late 20s by an itchy finger, young, hunter, who heard a sound and pulled the trigger. The idea that just having more guns will solve ANYTHING is nonsense, if for no other reason it has created lots of holes in young kid’s heads when Dad or Mom are less than responsible gun owners.
 This is where I run afoul some gun rights advocates and some hunters because this is where regulations ARE called for: regulations that encourage responsible gun ownership and responsible, ethical hunting. What those regs should be are a discussion to be had. The idea that a wild west approach (which is actually not quite like the actual old historical west) where there’s no regulation is good or wise is literal societal suicide: for us, for our neighbors and especially for our kids.
 Training for young hunters is important, or at least reinforcing the best standards. In my family it was one deer a year, taken down with a clean shot that limited suffering. My father used to say if the deer population was low it might be best to stop hunting for a year or two so they would repopulate. Never happen, and those who are anti-hunting might try to take advantage of that. But that respect, that desire, to do what’s best for all: including the deer, is what I respected the most about true hunters.
 Is what we have now: closing in on no hunting at all in some places, better? Slammed into by cars, maybe crawling off into the woods to die or taking humans with them? The carnage is incredible, especially in places like Tennessee where farmland is mixed with woods with town, hamlets and city. Interstates crisscross the state.
 No, it isn’t. I think it’s worse: suffering all around. What we have now is depopulation via unintentional automotive target practice: lethal to deerkind and humankind.

                                        -30-
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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