Today's column came my way through the ozone as a forward from Journal-News reader Jim Lang. The following slightly-edited account is supposedly from Anonymous who identifies himself as someone who farms, writes, and actually (?) tried this. True or not, it's a good story!
"I had this idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill and eat it. The first step was getting a deer. I figured that since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me it should not be difficult to rope one, toss a bag over its' head to calm it down, then hog-tie and transport it home.
"I filled the cattle feeder and hid at the end with my rope. (The cattle, having seen roping before, stayed well back. They were having none of it!) After about 20 minutes, three deer showed up. I picked one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope.
"The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I'd have a good hold. The deer still stood and stared, but was mildly concerned about the rope. I stepped forward. It backed away. I put tension on the rope and learned that—while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it—it's spurred to action when you pull on the rope.
"My next lesson was that—pound for pound—a deer is a lot stronger than a cow or colt. I could fight down a cow or colt in that weight range with some dignity. A deer? No chance. It ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it, and certainly no getting close. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not a good idea.
"The upside? Deer don't have as much stamina as many other animals. A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I did manage to get up. I was mostly blinded by blood flowing from the big gash in my head, and had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted that devil-critter off the end of that rope.
"If I let it go with the rope around its neck, it might die slowly and painfully somewhere. While there was no love between us and I hated the thing (and I guessed the feeling was mutual) I recognized there was a small chance I shared some tiny amount of responsibility. Not wanting the deer to suffer, I managed to align it between my truck and the feeder—kind of like a squeeze chute—and moved up so I could get my rope back.
"Did you know that deer bite? They do! I reached to grab the rope and the deer grabbed my wrist. Now, when a deer bites, it's not like being bitten by a horse. A horse just bites then slides off to let go. A deer bites and shakes its' head, almost like a pit bull. It hurts. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons from my right wrist, I pulled the rope loose with my left hand. And got my final lesson in deer behavior.
"Deer rear up on back feet and strike about head and shoulder level with front feet. Their hooves are sharp. I learned long ago that when a horse strikes with hooves and you can't get away, the best thing is to make a loud noise and an aggressive move toward the animal. That usually causes them to back down a bit so you can escape. This was not a horse. Trickery didn't work. I tried a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run! The deer hit me in the back of the head and knocked me down.
"When deer paw and knock you down, not realizing danger has passed they do not immediately leave. Instead, they paw your back and jump up and down while you lay crying like a little girl and covering your head. I finally managed to crawl under the truck. The deer went away.
"Now I know why people go deer hunting with a shotgun. It sort of evens the odds."
Anonymous ends by writing: "All these events are true so help me God…" and signs his name "An Educated Farmer." Thanks to Jim Lang for a great story.
True? Maybe, maybe not, but possibly a good reason forest deer have never been domesticated!
Lyn is author and columnist Marilyn Felkel Lingle. e-mail email@example.com