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Oh deer!

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By John Barnhart

    Deer season is in full swing. Archery season began on Oct. 1. I’ve always admired those guys who have enough patience to perch in a tree stand waiting to get a good shot — a level of patience that I lack. I especially admire those guys who can actually hit something using a bow. If you put a bow in my hands, the safest place to stand would be in front of the target as that is the one spot where I can guarantee that an arrow will not go.

    One of those guys who can hit what they shoot at with a bow is my pastor, the Rev. Dr. Raymond Quigg Lawrence. He recently fell off his bike and did a number on his left wrist that required surgery. However, he says he can still use his bow in spite of the fact that his left arm is in a cast and, based on posts on his Facebook page, it appears that he has been able to get a deer. This is a guy who managed to go turkey hunting one spring shortly after having surgery on his shoulder. I understand that he found a way to get off the shot by bracing the shotgun on his chest. He got the turkey.
    I wish all the guys success this deer season because every deer that they eat is one that will not run out in front of my car.
    Folks my age can remember when a deer was a rare sight as unlimited hunting had nearly wiped them out in the early 20th century. It was exciting to see one of the things.
    But not anymore! They are everywhere! They are all over Bedford County’s rural roads. They dash out from between houses in the city. I live in a suburban neighborhood, in Roanoke County nestled in the corner where the county, Roanoke and Salem come together and I have them in my backyard. A couple of weeks ago, I went out on my back deck one Saturday morning and there was a six-point buck standing in my yard glaring at me, apparently thinking “Yeah? Whatta you want?”
    One year they did do me a favor. The winter before last they trimmed an azalea bush. It didn’t have many blooms that spring — the deer ate the buds, but it was really nice this past spring. Apparently it benefited from what they did.
    The problem with the deer is that there are now so many of them that they are a serious traffic hazard. West Virginia is currently the top state for car vs. deer collisions, but I’m sure Virginia isn’t far behind. District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek, who owns a body shop, tells me he gets a lot of repair business from this sort of collision.    
    Even if you have the reflexes of a NASCAR driver, you don’t have a realistic chance of avoiding a deer. They dart out in front of you so fast, usually from a concealed location, that you have little time to react. In the last few years I have hit one and two have hit me. In one case, I had come to a complete stop because a couple of deer came across the road in front of me. A third deer then proceeded to run nose-first right into the side of my car, leaving a minor dent and some deer snot behind. On another occasion, one ran out from between some houses in my neighborhood and right into the side of my car, falling and scratching the paint with its flailing hooves as it tumbled over.
    Those flailing hooves can be dangerous. People have been killed when they have hit a deer in such a way that it has come over their hood and through their windshield, sharp flailing hooves and all.
    So, I wish all those deer hunters out there success. I also wish that people would get this Bambi nonsense out of their heads so that effective measures can be taken to get rid of suburban deer. Bambi may be pretty out in the woods, but he’s a pest, and worse, elsewhere.