I’ve debated over whether or not to even post this, because I’m sure some people will be offended by my blatant disregard for deer life, but the reality is that this is a work of fiction. A preemptive catharsis. I love animals and my kids find deer fascinating. I also love my vegetable garden, so instead of committing an act of backyard hunting, I’ll reenforce the fences and let the thing live. I’ll probably also plant something along the fence line to keep them away (cactus?), or feed them…
Let me just start by saying that I’ve never much preferred the taste of deer. I think the first and only time I ever tried you was when I was about 10 and was tricked into eating some venison sausage. Because of course I wanted to try some homemade sausage. And not only did I get to taste it once, but I got to try that shit again on the way up. It made me so literally sick to my stomach, the thought of eating poor baby Bambi, that I wretched that sausage right up in a strangers house. And that was that. It wasn’t some life changing, “I’ll never eat meat again” experience, but I realized I preferred it neatly packaged atop a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic. I was 10 and having grown up in the land of a quarter million cows, it’s what I was used to. There were no deer prancing around the middle of the baron landscape, so when I did see one it was romanticized on TV or something. The first time I saw a “major deer crossing” sign, I thought, this shit must be a joke, right? Someone came out here and put this sign up for my amusement, nice. But I soon realized it was a fair warning to heed. Though being the naturally talented driver I am, I have only thus far clipped a single one of you.
Then there was last year. The year we decided to plant some new roots, literally, by putting in some lovely fruit trees. The apricots and peaches were a gift to me, from my family for Mother’s Day. Ooh was I so happy to see that the peaches had five happy little stone fruits all green and waiting to be nourished to goodness until we could each have one to ourselves. And two for me. Parker wasn’t born yet and even if he had been he would be too young to eat fruit, so I get two. But I digress. As the next few weeks progressed my little green fruits began to turn a peachy color and swell in size, almost ready. Almost. Ready. And then there was you. You who came in my yard, probably with a couple friends, maybe not if you’re anything like me when I’m stalking a snack I want all to myself, and you gobbled that shit up, to death. To death. I’m serious you little fucker you killed my tree. And all that was left was the pit of two of my lovely peaches. Distraught, I buried the pits in the place where they fell and left it alone to become a dried up, dead little stick protruding vertically from a landscaped ring on the ground.
Over the fall and winter we constructed a “proper” gate made of lengths of different sizes and types of fencing, and proceeded to move the garden boxes to the front from the side yard. We gopher proofed the undersides of our boxes, because you weren’t our only problem last year, and talked about even making a spot on the property where we could put food out for you. I was like “fucks that!” But Tucker’s father used to do it, and after a few years, he bagged himself a big ol’ fat deer right in his back yard.
If you recall, I don’t really remember enjoying the flavor of deer. But I’m also no longer 10 years old. In the couple decades plus that have passed since then, I’ve kind of taken a new approach to food. Like I would rather know where it comes from and what it has been eating before I put it in my own body. And you my friend are no factory made, styrofoam packaged piece of beef. I know where you’ve been. I’ve looked you dead in the eye as you walked the tiny ledge behind my sunflowers looking for a good bite at 1 a.m. while I was up with a baby. I’ve nourished the watermelon plants and carefully trellised them up a fence, only to walk out in the morning to a plant destroyed. I watched as my peaches went from almost ready for pickin’, to nothing but a stone pit. I also watched that pit I buried next to that dead stick sprout and become a whole new tree this spring (or as my father pointed out, it may have been a sucker). And the watermelons came back even more prolific than before. But what I’m getting at here is that I know where you’ve been. I know what you’ve been eating. My palette has become more refined with age. I live to eat. And cook. I have a garden full of herbs and aromatics, roots and bulbs to make a variety of pastes, pesto’s, rubs, marinades, sauces and stocks with which to accompany a gamey piece of meat. I no longer eat red meat with the frequency I used to, so you would feed my family well for an extended period of time.
What I’m trying to get at here, deer, is that when I walked out front last morning and saw that you had made yourself a snack out of my beautiful, vigorous tromboncino, I had had it. I text Tucker with a line that went something along the lines of: I’m gonna fucking kill me a deer.. Accompanied by a photograph of said squash. Now I know it may seem a little harsh, the life of a deer for a few squash leaves, but the irony here is, when I eat you, I will be returning all the fruits of my labor back to myself, in the form of deer protein. I planted them, you ate them, I ate you, cycle complete.
So in closing I would just like to once again point out that your meat is not something I desire. Slaughtering, skinning and butchering an animal is not a task I am willing to head on myself any time soon, and having the mobile butcher come out and handle it for me would be pricey. You would most likely be succeeded by one of your overgrown rodent offspring, vindictively stalking the same grounds you preceded him in destroying. So for now, I’ll retreat. You live to see another day. Touché you son of a bitch. Touché.