Wood Not Splitting

This morning at almost 7:30 o’clock, I heard a sharp, loud crack, towards the south pasture.  I thought an oak tree in the grove had split its trunk.

It was not the splitting of a large oak tree, but the sharp, hard retort of a deer rifle.  To the southeast is the Hall place, to the due south is the Bryant place, and west is the Dooley land.  I could not determine the precise location of the wood-not-splitting crack.

Since moving here in 2003, I have seen the deer population go down significantly.  The Halls to the southeast have cleared their ten acres and, thus, removed the brush for deer.  The Dooleys have a deer stand within fifty yards of my Well House Corral.  The Bryants have had as many as four or five deer stands to the south of the native-grass pasture.  The harvest of deer has been devastating.  I now see two deer occasionally, where six years ago, I saw a herd of twelve to fifteen regularly.

After the rifle report this morning, I put on my red jacket, fed the horses, and then walked over our fifty-three acres to see the killing fields around us.  Deer tracks in our creek indicated two, maybe three deer, had passed.  I walked the creek bed, then over to the pasture of gramma, Johnson, and blue-stem grasses.  I saw no hunters, but a half a mile away a white pickup was tucked up against a grove on the Fulfer place.  That was the place of the Wood Not Splitting.

The hunter’s white pickup was new, neither rusted nor bleached by the sun.  The chrome shined.  Was it necessary to kill deer for food this Sunday morning?  To rouse me and my wife with your wood-not-splitting crack?  I’m not so sure I would be the Gentle Stockman if you met me today.

I say again, I have no argument with those that need food to live, to harvest deer for their table, to take a kill with respect.  But, for those that kill to gainsay an image of Western toughness or ruggedness, I think their behavior is violent upon the deer, their friends, and themselves.  There is redemption for the blood sportsman.  Go into the field without a weapon and sit.  Sit quietly for a day and see the stag and doe dash through the brush, across the pasture, and out of sight.  Sit so quietly that you see the deer graze, browse, and lick their young.  Then, if you are not redeemed after seeing these things, you are lost.

The word “deer” is connected to the verb, “to breathe,” in the Indo-European hypothetical.  Harvesting deer without respect cuts off breathing, the deer as well as your own.

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16 Comments

Filed under Deer, Flying Hat Ranch

16 responses to “Wood Not Splitting

  1. Jack, is it legal to hunt there and is it still deer season? If not, could you have gotten the license plate number and turned them in? In a small town, we’ve found the sheriff knows all the trucks and all the people for the most part, and have their persuasive ways of discouraging that behavior. And is is legal to shoot guns so close to civilization (we dealt with that at the FW lake house). Just thinking about the things I’d like to remind those “hunters” of, were it my house so near.

    Our land in Utah is set exactly in a strip of deer migration, so we see herds grazing all the time, and groups of momma deer with their young daughters walk around our county road. We’re thinking of someday putting out a salt lick during migration in the fall and the spring so we can sit on our porch and watch them linger on their way south in the fall and north in the spring. Around here, it’s not deer season anymore, of course. Can’t think that it is there, either.

    • Caralee, it is still legal to hunt deer in this county. The deer hunting season in Erath County is from November 7, 2009 through January 3, 2010. Bag limit is four: no more than two bucks. This is the general hunting season. I moved my salt lick to a more central location in our fifty-three acres. I am managing to set up the habitat so that the deer can use our salt lick, meander to some corn, and then deposit themselves back in the creek bed and grove, avoiding deer blinds. Many problems here, but the deer population currently is being depleted by over-harvesting. I am going to set up your website on my Blogroll. Look for it on the right margin column. I want people to know about you and Jimmy and what you are doing to create a sustainable life. My warmest regards to you and Jimmy. I wish we could see you two.

    • Caralee, please also look at a previous post on this blog: “Grandfather and Granddaughter at Flying Hat.” Within the post is more about the problems I had last year.

  2. Yes, I read the earlier post and remembered the problems we had at the lake house. That’s a ve-r-r-y long hunting season you have; it seems around here it’s over in just a few weeks and every hunter has to have some sort of “ticket” for what/how many they can kill. Most around here do eat the deer, but of course there are those who just want the “trophy.” Sometimes when we walk south to the Shinarumph (where the valley slopes toward Arizona and the north rim of the Grand Canyon)–just a medium hike out our back door–we get lucky and find some shed antlers. We have about three so far!

  3. StarkRavingZen

    Oh Jack. I’m so sorry you have to endure this frustration and sadness. It angers me too.. so much. I think so many *are* lost to their connection with animals and nature. Like “dead men walking” they seek only to rape and pillage the land, no respect for something they have no ability to feel. But there are so many like you, as well. People who work to strengthen and heal nature. The only thing I can do is focus on the energy of goodness, to keep the emptiness at bay. – Kristy

  4. We are a reflection of how we treat animals, so this is yet another sign of what a sad road we seem to be headed down. I find the concept of a deer stand upsetting, let alone the rest. If you really must hunt, man up and use a bow.

  5. Jerry

    Jack, I believe in your test for redemption. It worked for me!
    Best wishes,
    Jerry

    • Jerry, I appreciate the time you have taken to look at my posting. I am just about finished with your book, Waiting for Coyote’s Call. I took it with me at Christmas and really think it is a great piece of writing. I’ll give you some comments after I completely finish the work. I am in your chapter that has content about prairie dogs. How social they are, how helpless in this world. I hope your new work is coming along.

  6. Jack: Is this book published already? May I know more about it? You’ve peaked my curiosity with your mention of prairie dogs. I have friends who have yards full of them and don’t think of them too fondly, but I sure do find them fun to watch. I saw a TV program once about a man who studied them for years and deciphered, to my recollection, maybe 20 different sounds that they make…like warning signals, etc. It was fascinating. PS I don’t have to live with them, my only rodent friends are the squirrels that burrow under our foundation each fall. Martie

  7. Martie: Yes, it is published. Jerry Wilson, Waiting for Coyote’s Call: An Eco-memoir from the Missouri Bluff. Pierre, SD: South Dakota Historical Press, 2008. Wilson seems to be one of us, those that walk lightly upon the land. He has Aldo Leopold, Dillard, and many other authorities he respects. He and his wife built a solar home in SD. He is a former professor, but his book is direct, rich, detailed, very sensitive to all wildlife; not at all stuffy. He was blogging once a week last year on his blog, but he has discontinued it and is putting together a new book from his yearly blog with photographs.

    Refer to my links under Observations From a Missouri Bluff under Cordilleran Blogs. That’s his blog, now discontinued. Also under Cordilleran Blogs is Coffee on the Mesa blog. Do you know about coffeeonthemesa? She lives in Taos. Her work is excellent. Private, she is. Have you ever checked her blog?

    Jerry Wilson’s book is a must buy, I believe. Good to hear from you.

    Jack

  8. Jack: Thanks. NOthing I love more than buying a good book. Will get on it when I get home. I’ve seen your reference to his blog but haven’t indulged in reading it yet. When I find a blog I like, I always go back and start from the beginning. Don’t know who coffeeonthemesa is. Will put that on my list as well. Thanks for all the good leads. M.

  9. Martie, So do I like to start at the beginning and read forward. Look forward to your postings.

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