Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Hunt

The sun had begun to set, bring the hunt to an end for the night. Seyib loaded our rifles into the back seat of the Isuzu Hombre.  We would resume again in the morning, it would be our last chance to bag a buck. On the long, winding, drive home we discussed our plan of attack for the next day. We rounded a corner and saw a doe lying dead in the middle of the road. Seyib swerved to avoid the animal.

Looking out the window, I spotted a pair of fawns and began to wonder what would become of these young deer with no mother to look after them.  The image of the babies quickly left my mind as exhaustion consumed me. I managed to stay awake for the rest of the drive but, was out like a light when I finally made it to my bed.

I was awakened by honking outside my window, I had slept through my alarm and I had hunting to do. I quickly threw on clothes, grabbed some snacks and ran for the door. We spent the day hiking, in and out of gullies, through scrub oak and over mountain tops; not a buck in sight. We ended the last day of the hunt unsucsecfully, once again Seyib loaded the guns in the truck and we began our journey home.

We drove the same long, winding road as the night before. My mind began to wander. The image of the mother lying dead, while her children stood and watched, entered my thoughts. I shook the image out of my head and looked out the window.

As we approached the curve, I thought of the two fawns and wondered if they were ok.
 Off the side of the road sat a vehicle, its emergency flashers blinked impatiently. Seyib stop to make sure everyone was ok. The driver was standing in front of his vehicle, as we approached, he stated “I didn’t hit it”. “Didn’t hit what” asked Seyib, “Bambi” the man replied.

I looked down at the fawn and instantly knew that it was one of the dead doe’s children.

 In a desperate attempt to escape the deer tried to stand. Its hind legs remained on the ground; broken. The animal struggled to gain traction on the black top road. It appeared as if it was trying to ice skate for the first time. It would scramble for a couple inches than its front legs would slide out from under it. Again the man stated “I didn’t hit it”. I knew he was lying as I could see the blood and hair embedded in the grill of his vehicle.  The deer was trying its hardest to get away from the chaos, slipping, sliding and dragging its hind legs.

Seyib turned and asked “is there an animal sanctuary in town”, “Not that I know of” I replied. “We need to get this deer and ourselves off the road before we cause an accident” Seyib said

I walked over to the injured fawn and began to stroke its head, it looked up at me with its big brown eyes as if to say help. I picked up the deer and set it down in the back of the pick-up. I continued to pet it while Seyib spoke with the driver. The deer appeared calm; it was no longer trying to escape. It was as if it knew I was trying to help.

I got in the truck and opened the rear sliding window; I continued to keep the deer calm.  Seyib started making phone calls as we drove towards town. First he called the Division of Wildlife Resource but, nobody answered. He tried calling the sheriff but, nobody answered. He even tried to call a veterinarian but, nobody answered.
As we started to get closer to town he became worried that we would get in trouble for transporting wildlife. We discussed options like putting a tarp over the bed of the truck. We even thought of scenarios of what a cop would do if he saw us driving down Main Street with a deer hanging out in the truck.

Seyib told me they had a sanctuary in Ogden, which was on the way to his home. He did not think the animal would remain calm for the hour drive unless I came with him. I agreed to make the drive with him.
We pulled into the small town of Logan and noticed the sheriff’s office on our right about a block before Main Street. We decided before heading to Ogden we should stop and talk with the Sheriff, Seyib went in. I got out of the truck, went to the bed to check on the animals conditions. It appeared ok, besides the obvious broken legs. It just kept staring at me and I knew that it felt safe; I told the animal everything would be ok and we would take care of it, it seemed to understand and laid back down.

Seyib returned with two officers, the deer must have sensed something. It popped up from the bed of the truck and began trying to climb out. One of the officers panicked and went into defense mode and grabbed for his gun, he began yelling get back. I about shit my pants.  I reached for the deer and again told it everything was going to be ok. It calmed down and lay back down.

 We explained to the officers that we were going to transport the deer to Ogden and we would pay to have its legs fixed. They kind of chuckled at the thought. The older officer asked us why we didn’t just shoot the animal. Seyib said “I was not going to take the chance of getting arrested for shooting a firearm on a road and UDOT probably would have charged me to fix the hole”.

A call was placed to DWR and we sat outside the station anxiously waiting for permission to go to the shelter. About a half hour passed before the officer came back out to talk to us. He said that the game warden was not going to allow us to transport the animal and there was no shelter nearby to take it to. He had said that we should put it out of its misery. I rebelled, I had gained the trust of this animal, I had told it I was going to take care of it and everything would be ok. I felt like I would be betraying it if I did not resist the outcome. I was then threatened with being thrown in jail for interfering with an officer.

The pigs went to retrieve the animal from the truck and again the deer began desperately trying to escape. Again the spineless cop went for his gun, I thought to myself what a little bitch. A full grown man scared of a defenseless, injured animal. I calmed the deer, said my goodbyes and lifted it from the truck to the ground.
They asked me to carry it to a more secure location so they could execute it and I refused. I set it on the ground and got back in the truck, a few tears came to my eyes. I wiped them away before Seyib returned to the driver seat; we did not speak the rest of the way to my house. I could tell that Seyib was also troubled by the outcome of our evening.

That night I played through all the possible outcomes in my mind. Should we have shot the fawn and put it out of its misery before I befriended it. Why did we stop in the first place?  Maybe we should have bought a tarp and covered the truck bed, I’m sure we could have made it to Ogden without any problems.

I often look back and think about this experience, especially when I hear people say things like animals don’t have feeling or their just a stupid animal.  I have seen firsthand the personality of a fawn. I can attest to the fact that deer know when they are in danger. I would go as far as to say they can sense good and evil.
I tried hunting again a few years later but, my thoughts kept returning to the tragedy. I began to wonder what became of the other fawn.  Was it hiding from a hunter deep inside a thicket? Had it already met its demise?  Would it walk in front of me and if so would I shoot it?

The hunt ended with great success… for the animal community. I gave up my rifle and vowed never to hunt again.