Posts Tagged ‘Bambi’

This picture seems to be all that remains of the young black-tailed buck that traveled our woods -- and helped himself to my rose buds -- for two years. I forgave his harvesting my roses when he turned and looked right into my eyes as this photo was snapped. It was taken earlier this year when his new antlers were still fresh in velvet. I imagined that rack being a yard across in years ahead. My guess is he seldom left our place. It is rather a perfect bachelor pad as bucks go: meadows for browsing; ponds and creeks for drinking; woods for hiding; and does for courting. It was his turf until poachers ended his young life the first day of the Fall 2011 hunting season. Photo by James Sherman.

I try not to use the word “hate.” I did my best to raise my son in the art of not using this four-letter word or others  like it. But I’m using that word now: I “hate” deer and elk hunting seasons. More specifically, I hate the people who cheat at it: poachers.

Where’s the sport in raising your rifle as you sit in your truck on a public road at sundown and shoot a deer on private property where faded, but readable, “No Hunting or Trespassing” signs are posted?

Yes, we live in a hillside clearing surrounded by private forests and BLM land; so we expect hunters’ rifle shots to boom through our silence. The first weekend of the fall deer season they seem especially loud. I remind myself it’s a seasonal sport and tell my husband how glad I am it’s not his thing anymore.

I admit hypocrisy here: I don’t often voice my view in our rural social circles. Intellectually, I get the pros of ethical hunting as necessary for wildlife and wildland management. It’s my heart that isn’t convinced.

I’m the mom who read “Bambi” to her son and every time skipped the part about Bambi’s mother dying. My son’s 20 now. But whenever he starts a sentence, “Remember when you…,” I know he’s about to remind me how my revisionist bedtime reading got him blindsided on the playground when friends happened on the “Bambi” storyline. Adam insisted it didn’t go the way his pals said.

That afternoon, Bambi was with us in the car on the ride home from school. As soon as Adam had clicked his seat-belt around his six-year-old waist, it was game-on. “Mom, there’s only one ‘Bambi’ story right? So how come other kids say his mother got killed? And what exactly are hunters? ”

Adam’s words were like a shot to my mom heart. I’d tried to protect him from what I considered a harsh reality. And I’d put him at a disadvantage. It wasn’t the first time I apologized to my son for something I’d said or done. It was the first, and last, time I lied to Adam by omitting pieces of the truth.

I guess you could say deer hunting is a loaded issue for me. And can I just say that I got my Bambi comeuppance this summer. My chocolate Lab, Kobe, loves to find stinky things to carry home from walks in the meadow. This time, he was lagging way behind and pulling something heavy up the hill. He was dragging a skeleton: a head, spine, and partial rib cage. It could only have been a long-dead deer or young elk, taken by coyotes, injury or illness. “OMG” was about all I could say to my quite proud-of-himself dog.

Kobe knew better than to even attempt to bring his find into the house. Reluctantly, he dropped it on our front porch. Where it stayed until Adam got home and moved it out of sight for his mother.  Yes, the whole “Bambi”-on-the-playground incident came up yet again.

As it did recently when we got disturbing news from our other-side-of-the-woods neighbor: He reported seeing hunters taking aim from the road and dropping a forked horn in our woods at dusk. I literally felt as though I’d been smacked by a rifle shot’s recoil.

The young buck was apparently standing alongside the pump house on our private property when they killed it. Did I mention they were shooting toward our house?  The poachers, trespassing, dragged the buck to the county road and heaved it into the bed of their pickup. They sped off before the neighbor could make out the mud-spattered license plate number. I’m no game warden, but I count at least three rules* of the hunting game broken. Not to mention the spirit of the laws. Wonder what great heroic story the cheap-shot hunters told their peers about their illegally taken prize?

Chances are the buck poached was the one you see in the photo. He posed in our front yard earlier this year, perhaps to show off his brand new antlers. Needless to say, he felt pretty safe hereabouts. He probably didn’t stray from our place his entire life. Born here, lived here, died here. RIP.

 *      General Hunting Rules, excerpted from 2011 Oregon Big Game Regulations

Shooting Hours:                                                                                                                                                                                             ■■Game mammals may only be hunted from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

No Person Shall:                                                                                                                                                                                             ■■ Shoot from or across a public road, road right-of-way or railroad right-of-way….

■■ Hunt any wildlife from a motor-propelled vehicle. Exceptions: 1) A qualified disabled hunter may obtain an “Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit” to hunt from a motor-propelled vehicle except while the vehicle is in motion or on any public road or highway.

To Report Wildlife Violators in Oreogn,  Call 1-800-452-7888 or Email tip@state.or.us

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In our little corner of country, it’s tough to go anywhere this time of year and not see wisps of animal hair floating along behind someone on the street or in the corner mercantile. It HAS to be spring, because all the animals are letting go their warm, winter coats.


Springtime shedding, and animal hair is everywhere -- on jeans, in coat pockets, wallets, cars....

Each day that I brush buckets of red hair from my horse, Callie – I’m certain that’s the end of the shedding. Next day, still more clogs my brush and floats to the ground.

Sometimes Callie stretches out her neck and sort of licks or smacks her lips as I brush her: Horse folk say that “lip thing” is a sign the horse likes the feel of what you’re doing. Similar to our, “Oh, that feels SO good,” response to a good back-scrath or back rub.

Callie scratches her own back when she gets the chance: If turned out in the sandy arena, her routine  includes sniffing out the right spot (rather like a dog does before bedding down). Then she: kneels; plops down the rest of her 1,200 pounds; rolls onto her back; twists, rubs, scratches; rolls to her side; heaves herself up; and repeats the exercise a second time.

This week, I counted seven-in-a-row repeats of the go-down, roll-around, get-up moves. Oh how all that dead hair must itch! Shedding’s not the only sign spring is nigh. Critters in every corner of every pasture are pushing hard at the fences preventing them from nibbling the fresh shoots of grass on the other side. If their earnest desire for green

Spring's first blades of grass. Horses pull at lead ropes to grab a bite; sheep squeeze heads between fence rails; steers lean into fences -- all enraptured by the green.

actually takes a fence down, well the cattle, sheep, goats don’t go far: They’re too busy eating. But fence repair, especially done when it’s still raining and muddy, can try the patience of ranchers.

Then there’s the newness of all the animal babies. Newborns trying to navigate on spindly legs is one of the most touching, and sometimes comical, of sights. Adjacent to the long drive leading to Callie’s barn, is a sort of “birthing” pasture. When calving time approaches, the owners move their cows into this more hospitable, grassy area.

Spring is here, as witnessed by bursts of yellow daffodils roadside. Animal babies by the dozen are another clue. Not more than an hour old, this calf attempts to rise as his mother licks him dry. The little guy is so brand new, the umbilical cord is still attached.

Last week a red calf arrived. Mostly, I saw it nursing, sleeping, and, I think perhaps — hoping Mom would not graze far, so he didn’t have to struggle to get up on those darn things called legs again. This week, I spent time on Callie not really riding anywhere, instead simply watching that calf and marveling at Mother Nature.

Yesterday, I was blessed to be near at hand moments after a black calf was born. Several times, it almost wobbled up. Its mother, intent on licking away the afterbirth, sort of toppled it back down with the strength of her tongue. The now “big-brother” red calf appeared to be completely taken with the whole operation. If not today, I bet tomorrow the two calves will be gamboling about.

As I was clicking my camera off, I felt like I was being watched. I figured someone riding in the far arena was straining to see the calf, too. I turned to look. Staring back at me, or through me, from behind his fence was a very broad and sturdy black bull. The proud papa perhaps?

The high-pitched chant of blue jays and screech of hawks and falcons was with us all winter. Now birdsong is with us again between rain storms. Soon the challenge will be to keep the cats away from the nests and fledglings.

It will be a gold-star day when the first red-breasted Robin shows itself. I couldn’t honestly say if I heard it somewhere or made it up: I always feel like Robins bring good luck.

Maybe one or two of the does that frequent our “neighborhood” of woods and meadows will have a Bambi of her own. If they’ll just stay away from my roses when they start to bud and bloom – all will be well.

Tonight we move the clocks forward into daylight savings time. The timing all sees right.

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