by Roberta R. Barnes, © 1977
She grazes peacefully in a small open area. The air is crisp with just a slight chill. The beauty of the turning leaves sparking with frost in the early morning sunlight seem to compliment her beauty. Her tawny fur is now turning to a more somber grayish tone winter coat. She gracefully moves her slender legs forward as she grazes and gently moves her busy tail allowing tuffs of white fur to peak out from underneath it.
Behind a screen of burnt amber, a young buck stands contentedly watching his sleek delicate mate. Occasionally she gracefully lifts her head, twitches an ear, looks up toward the buck with big soft brown eyes, and tests the morning air for signs of danger with her black velvet nose.
The buck’s thoughts wander to the cedar grove they will find as they move deeper into the forest. It will be a warm secure place for the two of them to yard up when the snows come. Around May she will bear her first fawn. Her life expectancy is fifteen to twenty years and she may bring as many as thirty-one beautiful creatures like herself into this world during that time.
Suddenly the wind changes and her nostrils are now stinging with the scent of danger. Her ears stand erect, she leaps and her tail goes up revealing all of the white fur. Every muscle in her body is now tense and fear and panic fill her once peaceful mind.
Her front legs stretch out as far as possible, but it is too late. The terrible crack of gunfire shatters the peaceful silence, pain surges into her mind, and her limp body falls to the cold ground. There is nothing the buck can do to help his mate’s lifeless body now lying in the grass. He flees filled with fear and a sense of loss.
She will bear no spotted fawn in the spring and never again will her slender body move gracefully through the woodlands. It took months to create her life, but only a few painful minutes to snuff it out. And for what?
The price of meat has gone up – yes I know, my family eats too. But if you will look at the price of a rifle, bullets, and the bright colored jackets (so someone won’t mistake you for a deer), you will find that you can buy a lot of meat at your local meat store for the price of all that. As a cousin of mine said, “You only get a few steaks from a deer anyway”, and I cannot see anyone taking the life of such a beautiful creature for just a few steaks.
When you are eating the deer meat think of what else you are eating. The doe above was lucky that she died with only moments of pain. What about those deer that are shot in the lungs or other places and run with adrenaline, pain and panic surging through their body until they collapse. How many of the steaks you eat are from deer that spent too many minutes filled with pain and panic struggling to breath and somehow escape to a place of safety so they could live. Any medical professional will tell you that cells hold memory, so when eating deer meat think of the memories you are eating.
You can always throw the lifeless body on your car hood and parade around town showing what a good hunter you were to hide at the edge of a field with your high powered rifle, get the unsuspecting deer in your sights and pull the trigger. Then after the parade and the meat has spoiled you can stuff the head and hang it over your fireplace as a reminder of the day when you acted out the role of murderer.
Now this is a good one. “Man helps keep down the deer population so they won’t all starve to death”. And the next day you hear, “Not many deer around this year, D___ cats got them all”. So they load up their rifles, and go out and shoot the cats.
If nature was left alone as the deer population built up, the cat population would build up. When the deer population drops some cats starve, but the cycle goes on and nature keeps its own balance. The only time nature’s balance is upset is when human beings step in and become humans doing damage that upsets the ecosystem.
A friend of mine told me of a man who while out hunting was mistaken for a deer and shot in the stomach. He told her later, “I never realized how much a bullet could hurt until I was shot. Now that I have learned the hard way, as always, I will never again shoot another living creature”.
If all hunting and fishing were banned and people could start enjoying the beauty of seeing living creatures in the wild, perhaps man would start realizing the value of life and look upon his fellow man a little more kindly.
Yes, I suppose this is only an ideological dream, but would not it be a beautiful reality?
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