Sunday, September 7, 2008

Deer At Home on the Range

I used to think seeing the deer in our backyard was romantic. I was a victim of having seen Bambi and read the Yearling as a child. Then my son got Lyme disease. It took the whole summer to diagnose and was very painful. Watching my son receive shots and IV’s for weeks, those deer morphed into very large rodents in my eyes, bringing the equivalent of the black plague into my home in the form of a poppy seed sized insect. I combed over my children like a crazed chimp after a day of play for any signs of the critters and am proud to say I have pulled off more than ten in my careful searches.

Two more children caught Lyme disease in the following year, but we saw the bulls eyes around the bites and promptly got antibiotics. The problem was the deer rendered our half acre lot a constant danger for outdoor play. We needed to send Bambi and his friends packing.

We tried spraying “Deer Be Gone” on the bushes, but truthfully, I felt I could almost hear the does saying, “Oh look honey,” to their favorite bucks, “The Italian restaurant is putting out a new vinaigrette on the Hosta, we should go to Antonetti’s tonight.” Those bushes always seemed to get munched first.

Psychological warfare didn’t work either, for the month of July, we bar-b-qued every night. I wanted the smell of smoked meat to permeate the woods adjacent to us as if to warn them, “Carnivores live here.”

Assembling the family, we instituted “The Call.” If anyone saw a deer on our property, they were to yell, as loud as they could, “DEER!” and everyone young and old would stop what they were doing and make a charge out the back door at the creatures, screaming a’la Braveheart style and waving their arms. The deer would startle a bit and move on in a leisurely fashion as if to say, “How rude, we were eating here.”

Our collective charge had the emotional weight of someone talking on a cell phone at a restaurant. They couldn’t quite blow us off, but it was close. We tried using pots and pans and toy drums and instruments. My son’s trombone playing didn’t even require a cautious head raise by the lead doe. When he finished blasting out the Notre Dame Victory March, the deer casually walked out of our yard with scarcely a tail flick.

“Must be Michigan fans.” I thought.

We needed a battle plan.

Watching some nature show with my children, inspiration struck. Using branches that had fallen during a thunderstorm the prior weekend, my oldest son and I tied them antler style to the front grill of our Suburban. That weekend we waited eagerly for the Deer to arrive.

It was Saturday morning, 7:11 am, when the unfortunate buck stepped out of the forsythia to get some morning blueberries, freshly planted. I was in the kitchen starting breakfast and writing up the schedule for the day when I saw him. He was a picture perfect 8 point buck, straight out of the Disney studios, standing against the yellow blossoms, eating my berry bushes. I got my car keys and sneakers and stole out to the big blue SUV. I got in quietly. I buckled up. I turned on the ignition with a roar. The deer looked up, alert.

I swung the car into gear and drove onto the grass, flashing my lights, antlers waving and beeping my horn. That deer practically flew out of the place. I could also hear the satisfying thicket crunching sounds of many of his friends clearing out. “There’s a New buck in town.” I crowed at the fleeing pests, as I got out and patted my car. “Mine are bigger than yours!” I sang as I took the branches off my car and proceeded to do a victory lap around the back, wearing the branches like a crown.

My husband took the opportunity to re-park the car. “I’m sure that was against the Home Owner’s Association rules.” He said quietly.

Okay, so it probably was a bit over the top and the deer have since returned in force, unimpressed by my more creative antics. Recently, I gained perspective on the whole situation. My brother-in-law bought a house and the painter that was putting finishing touches on one of the rooms called him because a large black bear was grazing about his back yard. Suddenly, the deer seem pretty benign to me. I may not love them, but I can live with them. Nothing brings about peace like some third party with a bigger stick.


Anonymous said...

Oh, dear me, fa so la ti doe- er something that. A Texas fan... where is my shotgun? Actually, I think this calls for a rifle. What would Sarah Palin do?

jacobusmaximus said...

Great "off-brand" use for an suv.
Multi-tasking at its best.

Anonymous said...


Children around must prevent you from the Uncle PAt method --BB gun at the back door and squirrels make such inviting targets.

Anonymous said...


Children around must prevent you from the Uncle PAt method --BB gun at the back door and squirrels make such inviting targets.


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