Saturday, October 6, 2007

Different Kind of Posting

Saturday morning around here means, of course, watching old cartoons. Everything was going real nice. Starr Ann was still a little bit sleepy, so she kept making her lip-smack noise as she ate her cereal. She has no idea she does it. I may be the only person in the world who knows about that sound, because it only comes out at her most unguarded moments. And, honestly, it's not very attractive, but because it's pure, uncut Starr Ann, I always find it utterly endearing.

We had just enjoyed a hilarious Mr. Peabody and Sherman clip from an old Rocky Bullwinkle show when a Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd one came on. Dang! I thought I had gotten rid of all those. Besides the fact that Elmer bears an uncanny resemblance to President Dick Cheney, we try to avoid the subject of hunting around here, especially this time of year as deer season approaches. I didn't even have to wait for a consult, just got up and turned the DVD player off.

Anyone who lives on or near wooded land knows what I'm going to tell you about hunters.

We've let about a fourth of our land go wild, to give the animals being driven out by development a place to run to. And we posted it right away, thinking that was all there was to keeping hunters out. Wrong.

The NRA and hunting associations like to propagandize the virtues of hunters - they don't poach, they don't kill out of season, they don't drink beer all night and make a party of killing, they do it for the sake of population control, and hunters are responsible sports enthusiasts and wildlife promoters.

Not our experience of the situation, to say the least. Hunters poach. They sneak onto clearly posted property and kill. Hunters kill out of season, which is especially easy, because game wardens are off their guard then. During hunting season, clusters of beer cans and bottles begin to appear beside ponds and around clearings. As for population control, I'd be interested to see how many of these animal lovers would turn out to help with a program to sterilize wildlife instead of kill them. Responsible? Starr Ann's nightmare in the woods a few years back put an end to that argument in our minds once and for all.

Beautiful fall foliage had been calling Starr Ann for days. One morning, she couldn't contain herself any longer, so she got up real early for a hike on our neighbor's thousand-acre preserve. We weren't quite as aware of hunting season dates then as we are now, so she had no idea she was in the middle of it. But anyway, Mrs. Bowles' property is posted like you wouldn't believe.

Starr Ann rounded a bend and almost stepped on a dying buck. He'd been shot in the stomach and a trail of blood led from his body back in the direction of Mrs. Bowles' property line. According to Starr Ann, she had sense enough to know that following her inclination to throw herself across the buck and hold him while he died would only make it worse for him. So she moved off a little ways downwind and cried her heart out until his sides stopped heaving.

Starr Ann doesn't remember much about getting back to me, but when she got here she was all scraped up and her legs were weak from thrashing and stumbling through so much heavy undergrowth.

Together, we went back to that bend, not knowing what we were going to do, but Starr Ann couldn't bear to just leave that magnificent creature in the trail like that without paying some respect or something. Like I said, we didn't have a plan, we were simply going back. Turns out a plan wasn't called for. The deer was gone. Most of him, at least. I won't go into detail about what we found.

Later, we also discovered a deer stand that had been erected just a few feet from Mrs. Bowles' property. Nice. They sat up there and waited for that boy to come along, and shot him in an unguarded moment as he browsed in a place where he'd been safe and happy all his life.

We had plans for today, too, but they're no longer relevant. Starr Ann is out checking our posted notices. And there's one other thing we do once hunting season gets closer and the good ol' boys (actually, we spotted a woman among them one year) start putting up their deer stands. What we do is not nice. It is not pretty. It's not fair. I think it is legal, but that hardly matters. We'd do it anyway.