This morning my son and I are trying to replant the entire garden that has been destroyed by the deer. The deer here are a mixed blessing; venison is an important part of the local diet, and a part of the beauty of the local landscape. They are fewer here lately, some say due to recent changes in the game laws. I don’t know. Just a few years ago there were so many deer they were a danger when driving and even a nuisance to be fenced out of your garden. Not it seems they too have joined in the flight to suburbia. To their detriment. By moving among the masses they have attracted the attention of the media.

 

“Hazardous and out of control,” the headlines read. And so, for whatever the reasons, the game laws changed. I don’t pretend to understand the bigger plan, but since hunting doesn’t take place in suburbia, but rather out here in the hustings, the result I have seen is fewer deer in local freezers and on local tables, while deer seem unchecked in the more populous areas.

 

The increase in hunting and hunters flows outward from suburbia. “Sport Hunters”, Folks who often do not like, much less eat venison, none the less feel the yearly urge to brag about the deer they got. Recently, talk about the size of “the rack” have been giving way to tales of the numbers of doe or the several tags the intrepid hunters were able to fill out and thus prove their prowess. Many of these deer are wasted, a few perhaps given away. The ones that do make it into a freezer are still often discarded. Much meat will sit unused until next year when it must be thrown out to make room for the next deer.

 

A few years ago, when I first moved here, the winding mile or so of road up over the top of my mountain might have had two or three cars of hunters on opening day of buck season. Everyone had a reasonable amount of meat and the braggadocio of the size of the rack was often answered with “you don’t eat the antlers”. Though deer were more common, we had, really, less trouble avoiding the nuisance aspects. Perhaps we were just more used to it. The last several seasons, I have counted over two dozen cars, with several hunters each on the same road on opening day. Most of theses cars are not even local, but out-of-towners coming to “the mountains” for a little fun. This is on a road that gets fewer than a dozen cars every day.

 

Which brings me back to my current day. Lately I have been watching a (very) few doe in the evenings, only one of which seems to have a fawn with her. Thus, far in the season, my garden has been relatively untouched, and I suppose I have been a little lax in its defense. After all, I reasoned, there is plenty of food for the deer to browse, and if I share a little, it will mean more meat this winter.

 

This morning as I make my rounds, coffee in hand, I see my entire garden has been decimated. Stems devoid of leaves where my tomato plants lived, basil, uprooted and devoured, only the woody root ball remaining. Where my lovely rows of peppers with their promise of colors and flavors only tiny footprints and piles of pellet-like scat. Radishes, lettuce, everything but the onions gone.

 

Once, I might have been more philosophical about the loss, balancing the disappointment in vegetables with the promise of meat. Now, I’m not so sure. The young does and the sole fawn stand a greater chance of ending up in a suburban landfill. It is little wonder many of the daughters of the suburban sportsmen forgo meat as a social statement, considering the current trend of disrespect for all of our food sources, animals, plants, even the soil.

 

As my son, an early riser goes to the house to stir his sister and we all begin the process of salvaging, replanting, strengthening our barriers, I wonder. Is there a parable in all of this?

 

I hope America always has the resources to recover these losses.

 

Thank goodness for CSA.

 

 

 

 

 

   
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