Bambies on the Gunpowder The dearness of deer: A confessional

Cathleen A.Hanson

December 18, 1992|By Cathleen A. Hanson

THE Department of Natural Resources is opening my back yard for hunting this winter.

I mean that both figuratively and literally: figuratively, because what will be opened by lottery to hunters from Jan. 11 to Jan. 22 (weekends excluded) is the Sweet Air area of Gunpowder Falls State Park, and I cannot truly claim ownership; literally, because that section of the park borders land that is legally mine.

The reason is deer, and lots of them. In fact, Sgt. Mike Browning, assistant park manager for the park, says there are 650 to 700 deer in this 1,250-acre section, several times more than that acreage ought to sustain.

I believe it. Just last week I saw a cluster of 10 deer chomping on what is left of my grass. And I figure that those brave enough to venture within 50 yards of my house are only the tip of the iceberg (or the tip of the antler).

But the thought of hunting what my daughter calls Bambie, mother and father of Bambie, aunts and uncles of Bambie, sisters and brothers and cousins of Bambie disturbs my anthropomorphic sensibilities.

Last year, my aunt was experiencing difficulty with deer destroying thousands of dollars worth of shrubs on the considerable acreage around her home in Connecticut. Her brother, my uncle, a seasoned hunter, spent last Thanksgiving morning helping her solve a small portion of the problem. And though venison was not served as part of that Thanksgiving meal, I found myself the receiver of several tasty quarters of deer.

Each morning, as I eat my breakfast in front of a window that faces the state park, I scan my back yard hoping to spot Bambie and relatives. I see them about half the time, and I'm disappointed when they don't make an appearance.

When the hunting season opened in Connecticut this year, my uncle, Indiana Jones-style, headed to my aunt's property. In anticipation, I shuffled food around in my freezer, making space.

During that season-opener weekend while the deer were being stalked, my brother called me. "I have a secret," he said. "You have to promise not to tell anyone."

"What?" I asked.

"You know the deer that have been destroying all those shrubs on Aunt -----'s property? Well, they've been worse than ever this year."

"Oh?" I responded.

"It's because Uncle ---- has been putting salt licks and deer bait all over her place."

We chuckled, my brother and I, though I'm not sure why. Maybe it went back to an old sibling rivalry.

Or perhaps it was because Aunt ----- was still so sore about the results of the presidential election.

Cathleen A. Hanson writes from Baldwin.

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