Friday, April 2, 2010

Deadly Velvet Weapons

It happened again last night. This time they took a different, more menacing tactic. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t dare. My finger snaked over to the dashboard and pushed the automatic door locks. It was twilight when I left critique group, when all the vampires, zombies, goblins and rancorous looters slither from their dens to torment their victims. It sent shivers up my spine to see the vicious beasts roaming free instead of being locked in a cage where they belong. But I have learned to be circumspect when dealing with them. It wasn’t always so.

As the tires ground to a shuddering halt on the steepest portion of the gravel road to my house, two of them boldly blocked my way, daring me, taunting me. This is the same portion of the road where my car nearly slid off the edge into the creek a year ago. Somehow they found out the road scares me. The animals!

I used to be against hunting, having grown up thinking of Bambi. But I understand it. In the old westerns there’d be some cougar hunt, or a wolf hunt after ranchers lost half their cattle herds to a four-legged fiend. There have been whole movies devoted to the defeat of marauding lions. Even birds have been featured in horror films (and rightly so). So why aren’t the treacherous deer ever exposed for the callous beasts they are?

As I watched them amble up the middle of the road, tails flipping me off, my mind went back to the time before I gave up the idea of gardening. The deer had wiped out hundreds of dollars worth of living, breathing, innocent plants and shrubs. I purchased a few miserly plants they would not eat and spaced them out along the circular driveway. Dragging two, black, fifty-foot hoses, attached end to end, I held my thumb over the spout. It was early evening and the hundred foot fir trees cast long shadows over the acre of land next to mine. At the fence separating the two properties, water sprinkled onto the purple blossoms of the butterfly bush and the pink heather as I waved the water back and forth. My eyes caught movement in the field and I brought my head up and stared. Right there, in the middle of the acre, a young buck, still in velvet, chomped on some tall, green grasses.

I saw red.

I waved both arms, water spraying into the air, and shouted, “Get out of here, you vicious thief. You despicable bandit.”

The buck jumped a foot, turned wide, dark eyes on me and began to run. He rushed to the fence, spun on his hind legs, rushed to the other side, darted out into the center and back along the edge until he ended at the far corner, still trembling. Trapped, he turned toward me, began a series of loud snorting hisses, pawed the ground, lowered his head, and charged.

My breathing accelerated to freight train speed as the animal flew across the field with his velvet antlers aimed at my gut. I remember thinking I may have made a mistake in shouting at the beast. Somewhere “you can’t outrun a wild animal” shot through my brain. My feet grew roots and I clutched the hose, water spewing over my legs. He slid to a snorting stop at the rail fence, four feet and a couple of 2 x 6 boards separating us.

I didn’t move.

He did. He hissed out his fear, turned and ran back to the far corner. He spun around, lowered his head and began the second charge. The snorting filled the air. I dropped the hose, but still couldn’t move. Once again a cloud of dirt rose as his hooves dug into the ground a foot from the wooden boards.

I stayed deathly still and began to coo to him in a voice reserved for dealing with violently deranged people...or cats. It was very low and smooth, like a 900 operator. “Oh, what a pretty, pretty boy. You are so lovely. You are such a pwecious widdle baby.”

He glared at me, his breath steaming from his nostrils and listened to the slightly “sing-song” cadence of my voice. His breathing slowed and the snorting hisses stopped. The whites around the dark eyes disappeared and his shoulders relaxed. He stood there until the compliments began to repeat themselves and he turned around. He trotted over to the opening in the fence and disappeared into the woods.

My thoughts returned to the present. These deer showed no fear, no urgency to disappear into the trees. They knew I’d have a hard time starting up the steep dirt path from a stop. Every few feet they’d stop and turn their heads back to sneer into the beams of the headlamps before flipping me off again. When they reached the top of the hill, I gave the car gas, let out the clutch, kicked up gravel until my tires grabbed the dirt and fishtailed forward. They each took a side of the road and as I inched between them and beyond, I heard their sinister laugh.


  1. maybe you should try the soothing voice more often

  2. Sandra (gary)

    It takes me longer than some to learn. I actually had a few other run-ins with wildlife before I caught on. Perhaps someday I'll talk about some of the others.

  3. Jeepers, Melanie! That was a close call. Very courageous of you to stand your ground. You have powerful feminine wiles.

  4. My husband came home and I read your story to him. He mightily appreciates your deer trials. The two of you could stay up all night telling each other horror stories about your deer.

  5. Jewell,

    You are such a great person to think I was brave to stand there. If fact, I was a basket case. I hung up my gardening gloves. And I think I'd like to hear about your husband's horror stories. No one believes me when I say deer are ruthless terrorists.


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