Worth the sacrifice
We live in what could loosely be described as a neighborhood. Our home sits on a couple of acres, the smallest lot of seven, on a dead-end road. It’s rural and wild critters abound. Foxes cross through the yard and their larger canid cousins, the coyotes, sing to the stars on winter nights. Lizards, toads and squirrels are an every day sighting; even wild turkeys have been spotted once or twice. And then we have the deer. We are covered up in whitetail deer.
I’m a fan of deer. I love to hunt and eat deer, but I also love just watching deer. They always seem to be doing something interesting and it’s an enjoyable way to pass time. Seeing deer was an uncommon occurrence when I was growing up, and it always created a buzz. I remember finding deer tracks and buck rubs near Granny’s house on Bells Chapel Road and feeling as though I’d found signs of Sasquatch. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends at school, who promptly told me I was full of it. Deer were found only in the wildest of places and Bells Chapel didn’t qualify. But Dad was quick to back my claims when some of those friends came over for a visit, and so my integrity was preserved in the eyes of my elementary school buddies. Dad said the deer were there, likely in more number than I thought, but they were very wary. I would be lucky to see one on the hoof.
Dad was right. It was not until my fifteenth autumn that I saw a deer near Granny’s place. Before then, I saw a few on the road during our trips to visit my other grandparents in Newton County, and I think I saw a couple after five years of hunting in Newton County, but a deer sighting was always cause for excitement during my youth because of its novelty.
A deer sighting now makes me worry about the bell peppers in my garden. My local deer love bell peppers.
The deer around our house are a brazen bunch. They stand in the neighbor’s pasture, placidly chewing their cuds, watching me drape a smelly work shirt over a wooden post on the garden’s border. I hope the stink will keep them away from my produce tonight. But they’re just waiting on sundown to fill their bellies, and I know in my heart that all efforts are for naught. The peppers will be gone by morning.
I’m still in awe of the deer. My nine-year-old self could never have imagined deer as a nuisance, and my 45-year-old self feels the same. The whitetails carry the wild and a bit of that youthful exhilaration into my middle years. I think that’s worth the sacrifice of a few peppers.