Tag Archive 'deer management'

Nov 09 2013

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Denizens of the Forest

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deerThanks to the government shutdown, I had the Saratoga Battlefield all to myself when I visited it a month ago. There were no other people there, that is. But the fields and forests of that park were chock full of deer. I must have encountered twenty of them during my morning walk.

No doubt the deer were taking refuge from the hunters going after smaller game, sighting in their rifles and getting ready for the deer season ahead. I could hear the occasional report of a rifle in the distance as I walked. The deer must have heard it as well.

Even though I am not a hunter, I do not disparage hunting. Short of poisoning deer or introducing more predators to the wild, I see no other way to keep their numbers down. Nature culls the herd each winter through mass starvation, but as a woods wanderer I find enough winter kill each spring as things are. Besides, I engage in another blood sport called trout fishing so who am I to judge?  Oh, and yes, I like the taste of deer meat whenever I get a chance to sample it.

Here’s the bottom line: If I were a four-legged denizen of the forest and on someone’s menu, I would much prefer being hunted down and shot towards the end of my days than to be penned up my whole life only to be “harvested” or “put down” by the most humane means possible. Running wild is the main thing. The rest is just the natural (or unnatural) order of things.

All this said, I like deer more alive than dead. Up to a point, that is. There are so many of them now that a midnight drive home is a dangerous proposition. I’ve come close to hitting deer several times this year. And few things are more depressing than seeing their rotting carcasses along the side of the road. Such a beautiful creature when alive. How sad to see them lying there.


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