Saturday, October 25, 2008

Camer Critters-Two Fawns and A Story


If I am not traveling to more exotic locales in search of photographs, I spend most mornings and evenings with the local herd of whitetail deer. As I do, my mind often wanders back over my years as a Deputy Conservation Officer and Game Lands Maintenance Worker and Supervisor for The Pennsylvania Game Commission. Salty and I have lived through enough experiences that we could each write a book about them and yesterday as the early black powder , and Junior/Senior citizen season antlerless season wound down,(today was the last day) I couldn't help but think of an incident from several years ago. This memory was brought on by hearing nearby rifle shots which could have been on the property that I protect, or it could be on a neighboring hunting club. I drove to the area and hunters were searching for a blood trail on their property.

Years ago, Pennsylvania had a two week bucks only season, which was followed by a three day doe season on the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. In those days, most local factories gave the workers the first day of buck season and the first day of antlerless season off, and schools were closed. To be quite frank the day was usually a blood bath. We ordinarily made more arrests on that day than at any other time and sometimes more than we had during the entire autumn before that point.

In this case Salty was to meet me in a spot where he had a clear view of the hunting club. He arrived there about dawn. I was only a short distance away and heard a terrific barrage of rifle fire from the area so I hurried in that direction and asked him what was going on. He said," this is unreal and I don't know what to make of it, but someone came out of the club house and started blowing on a whistle and firing a rifle at deer in the field. He killed at least one, and we need to go and check it out." At that time a club member came driving past us, paused and said that they had a member who was not too bright. A doe and two fawns had been seen in the field in front of the club on numerous occasions during buck season and they were not afraid of people at the club house. The person in question wore a whistle around his neck on a string in case he got lost. Some of the other members decided to play a practical joke and told him that if he saw a deer, he should blow a whistle to get their attention, and then begin firing.

This is what he did. All in all he fired eight shots. As Salty and I stood watching, he grabbed the deer and began dragging it to the club house and we ran toward him. It was illegal to move a deer without first filling out a harvest tag and attaching it to the head. When we got close to him, he asked if we knew how to gut a deer as he didn't know how, and he kept saying loudly,and repeatedly, "I killed my first deer"! The deer was literally shot to pieces as the rifle was a 30/06 and he had hit the deer several times, but most were not in immediately fatal areas. Several legs were broken, a shot or so in the intestines, etc.

It became obvious that there was no attempt to circumvent the system. When most fail to tag, they intending to keep hunting and do not use their tag so that if an officer checks them they appear to be legal--their moment of exposure to arrest is when they are in possession of the dead deer that is not tagged. If they can get that deer in without being caught they are basically home free. In this case it was obvious that he was so excited that he had not even thought about tagging the animal, so we gave him a written warning.

I have thought a lot about the incident over the years, and it is one of many reasons that I no longer hunt.

Canon 30-D: 500mmF4 1/125 f8.0 ISO 500

The fawn above is not the animal in the story. It was photographed on Wednesday morning of this past week, and was still alive as of Saturday morning, but it is exactly the type of animal that this "practical joke" was inflicted on. I look at this picture and then I think of the other fawn shot to rags by a "sportsman" who was incited to do it by other "sportsmen".

This is not an attack on conscientious, ethical hunters, who are out to harvest meat for the table, but this type of attitude and behavior is all too common!

For more animal photos click here!

15 comments:

b13 said...

I never understood the hunt for sport aspect. I have nothing against killing to eat and venison is very tasty... but I prefer to shoot animals with my Nikon and paper targets with my bullets. Wonderful photo. She's a beauty.

ratmammy said...

such a sweet face!

ratmammy said...

i just went back to read the post and am appalled at their behavior....

Carletta said...

Moving back to rural West Virginia has been a big change for me.
I am constantly torn between seeing the deer in my backyard and wanting to protect each of them and yet I'm surrounded by those for whom hunting is a lifelong behavior and most are very ethical.

I love this fawn image - a beauty.

Tootie said...

I agree. Beautiful deer.

The Birdlady said...

That's a great photo of a beautiful creature...and the story made me cry. I just cannot understand it.

babooshka said...

Incrdible shot again. You have such an affinity with wildlife.

Abraham Lincoln said...

What a dilemma. Hunting to eat. I know we did that during World War II. That's one of the reasons this backyard is a wildlife sanctuary. It is my time left on this planet to repay wildlife for my life by making their life as pleasant as possible here.

My Halloween memories and Grandma C's Noodle Recipe

fishing guy said...

Willard: I can also remember my days of hunting as a child. Often we hunted so we would have meat for the table. That was a different day then today. Now I will no longer hunt except with my camera and I will continue to try to capture the beauty of the Whitetail Deer.

Sandy Kessler said...

Amazing story though

T and S said...

The only hunting that I can bear to see these days is wild animals & birds hunting for their meal...

Thomas

kjpweb said...

A perfect shot in a very unperfect world.
If I had a say - hunting for sport would be banned for good. It's one thing to hunt, if you need to feed your family - but for fun?
Klaus

Tommy said...

Great post. I have never been deer hunting and really do not care to go. I much rather shoot the deer with my camera. I do understand why people hunt. My brother deer hunts (with a bow) and what ever they kill goes to a special program that helps feed the hungry in Alabama.

DeeMom said...

I think most of us FOMER hunters have stories…most are sad ones like yours. I hunt now, as like you, with my camera…
We enjoy the deer that visit us here and we are quite protective of ANY hunting on our land.
Most of the time we are successful in that endeavor
Great Reminiscence
And super photo

Gretchen said...

What a gorgeous photo!

Living in the area I do, hunting is a way of life. We learn to use a gun when we're very young and are taught gun safety as well as respect.

The idiot in your story was obviously from the city. No person raised in the "country" would act that way.

For those who hate hunting and killing bambi, have you ever seen a deer starve to death because there isn't enough food to support the herd? If not, then you really need to see that. Then you can condemn something you don't understand. Do you eat meat? It came from something living. Wear leather? Again, something living.

OK, rant off.

Hope everyone is having a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!