Don’t Shoot!

Now that deer season is in full swing, I have just one thing to say to all the hunters out there: IF YOU SEE A DOE WEARING A PINK NECKLACE, DON’T SHOOT! Please oh please.

I learned about this doe while working at the election office last month. A voter who came to my station leaned over the counter just a little bit. “You’re the lady who writes for the paper, aren’t you?” she asked. When I told her I was one of several who fit that description, she smiled. “I have a story you might want to hear,” she whispered. “It’s about a deer I raised up from the time she was one week old.”

Because the line of voters was growing longer, I wrote down the woman’s name—for the purposes of this column, I’ll call her “Mary”—and phone number and promised to call when I had time to chat. The story she shared with me is a good one and I’m delighted to share it with you.

In Mary’s neck of the woods (also a secret), she has a reputation for rescuing needy animals. When a friend’s Great Pyrenees dog gently deposited a tiny fawn on his front porch in the summer of 2017, the friend asked Mary if she would take it in. “It was a little bitty thing,” she told me, “about the size of a dachshund, and scared to death.”  Mary happened to have on hand some powdered goat milk and a nipple she’d once used to feed a newborn goat. She mixed the powder with water and poured it into an empty Michelob bottle. “That baby deer sucked down every drop and drank two more bottles before the day was over,” she said.

Mary named the fawn Whizzer because she ran everywhere she went. “I kept her in a dog crate when she was in the house because she was so rambunctious,” Mary said. “When she got too big for the crate, she became an outside-all-the-time deer.”

Whizzer is afraid of Mary’s cows and goats, so she spends most of her time in the woods. But when Mary steps into the yard with apple slices or cracked corn and calls her, Whizzer usually comes running. “She lets me pet her and even kiss her on the muzzle,” Mary told me. “She won’t let anybody else do that.”

With hunting season approaching, Mary feared what might happen to Whizzer, so she bought some high-visibility pink plastic ribbon—the kind tied to items sticking out of the bed of a pick-up truck—and made Whizzer some braided necklaces. “I used thin plastic so she won’t choke if she gets caught on something,” Mary explained. “It just tears away.” Thus far, Whizzer has been through four necklaces.

Here’s hoping she can keep the one she’s now wearing intact until deer season is over. Because Whizzer isn’t venison. She’s somebody’s pet.

(November 25, 2018)