In Which I Ramble About Deer and Assholes

"You're going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long"

“You’re going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long”

I have nothing against hunting. For food.

When taken by a responsible hunter (i.e. permitted, law-abiding, property-respecting, good shot) wild game is one of the most humane sources of animal protein currently available. Unlike our factory farming system, which sentences animals to a life of unspeakable horrors, game animals are more or less bopping around their native habitats, having about as good a life as they can in a world run by people until, ideally, they are quickly and quietly dispatched.

I also have a not insignificant amount of respect for people who interact with their food systems in a way that I don’t, can’t, or won’t. I believe there is much to be said for the hunter who understands, and respects, that he or she is taking a life in order to sustain their own, and then proceeds to put every bit of the animal to use with a near psychotic efficiency.

That said, I have everything in the world against hunting for sport. If your idea of “sport” is stalking a thumb-less and unarmed vegetarian creature while you, an apex predator, are stuffed with beer and strapped to the gills in miniaturized explosives well, I’d like to introduce you to “golf.” Because golf is more sporting than that shit.

And in the name of sweet sweet reason, don’t plaster Facebook with photos of you drunkenly holding the head of your still-warm quarry. One, that is disrespectful—if you do that, you are officially hunting for “sport” even if you eat the damn thing. Two, I just assume that every male who does this is suffering a serious case of micropenis. If you have to kill a deer because it is literally or metaphorically better hung than you are, check how you’re living. And get a hobby. I suggest an actual sport.

Based on the aforementioned opinions, I have a hierarchy of hunters. At the top of that hierarchy, more or less above reproach, is the subsistence hunter. You do you, man. And thank you for not contributing to the US’s deplorable animal husbandry standards. Beneath subsistence hunters—like way, way beneath them; so far beneath them they’d need an extension ladder to lick a subsistence hunter’s bootheel—are the “sport” hunters who all need to read a fucking book.

And beneath even them, down past the Treacherous in what, I’m sure, would have been labeled the Twentieth Circle of Hell (give or take) if only Dante had had a bigger excavator, are the Inhumane Fuckwits.

King of the Inhumane Fuckwits is the canned hunt-er.

This makes the entire municipality in which I dwell—bastion of soccer moms, upscale shopping, and vegan groceries—the official barony of Inhumane Fuckwits. For you see, those soccer moms have become very worried about their soccer vans toting their soccer children as deer run rampant! Hurling themselves into traffic! Launching themselves through windscreens! Mayhem! Destruction! Carnage! There is blood in the streets and its up to the soccer moms’ ankles because deer.

So the precioussssssssss (fuck them) have instituted a canned hunt, which they are calling a deer cull, recently approved by the PA Game Commission (fuck them, too.) This allows them to set up paddocks, spread corn, close the gate, then shoot the captive deer. Not only is this a stupidly ineffective non-solution to the problem, it’s unspeakably cruel. Deer have nothing on us. They don’t have a second amendment and are therefore without firearms, they can’t really bite us to death (not effectively, anyway), and they’re the exact opposite of intimidating. There was that one guy, on When Animals Attack, who was boxed by a deer but, injuries notwithstanding, I think the overwhelming majority of the population just laughed at that. Or maybe that was just me.

This canned hunt removes their only means of defense–the ability to run away–so that people can quickly and conveniently shoot them in the head. And, to add insult to mortal injury, it does it by luring them into the situation. It’s not like the deer just happened to be standing around in this pen so someone closed the gates. Nay. It’s winter. They’re hungry. Inevitably, they find this Xanadu in the snow, where the floor is literally paved with dried corn and BLAM! Someone shoots them in the face. And the last ones to go get to freak the hell out while they watch the other deer get shot in the face.

If you can’t see what’s wrong with that, fuck you, as well. The Humane Society will see you out.

I obviously have a problem with this “solution”, but I also take issue with the underlying premise that anything at all needs to be done about the deer. We have a lot of them, that is true. We also have a fair amount of green space in the community. If only someone could have forseen that parkland attracts wildlife. Woe betide us. But then, I’m guessing that green space and an overall bucolic vibe are likely two features that attracted many of these Inhumane Fuckwits to the Lebo over, say, Larimer.

In addition to a lot of deer, we also have relatively low speed limits. I’ve seen far more deer on the residential, 25MPH, streets than I have on the primary roads—which stands to reason: it’s quieter. Much more chill. They wander around, fairly unmolested, eating people’s Hostas. There are no Hostas on Banksville. So, I mean, I hate to bring up the elephant in the room (please don’t shoot him!) but uhhhhhh . . . if you’re driving 25 MPH or less, pray tell me: why can you not avoid bloody, deadly collisions with large mammals?

Oh right. It’s because you are actually traveling almost twice that speed, but it’s just plain easier to blame the deer than it is to take responsibility. And also, I know you paid your landscapers a lot to maintain those Hostas.

Let me pause here to emphasize that I, in no way, mean to diminish the safety risk posed by Pennsylvania’s crazy pants deer population. Deer-vehicle collisions are at best scary, and at worst, deadly. But in a mostly residential community, with pretty rational speed limits and good distance from the closest interstate, there is no way that they should be as out-of-control scary as our little hamlet would have it seem.

Speeding is a known issue here. Drive half a mile through this community and you’ll lose count of all the “Drive like your children live here!” signs you will pass. As a runner, I have been very nearly run off the road twice, and actually hit by a vehicle once. I’ve been running off and on since 1998, in four states and five cities, and this is the only place I’ve ever been concerned for my safety. Here. In a community that markets itself on its walkability. Which is to say, Mt. Lebanon: you all drive like assholes.

When I pointed this out on a Facebook discussion, I was summarily told “not all drivers!” and also that pedestrians need to take responsibility for not being visible enough. Legitimate overtures could be made to take “It’s your fault!” as our community catchphrase. Isn’t it possible–just possible–that this asshole attitude, combined with the speeding, might have something to do with all your freaking deer collisions? Perhaps we don’t need a deer cull so much as a driver reeducation camp. Because even if the deer cull works (it won’t) these people are still going to need something to break them from their texting-while-driving stupor and a runner works just as well as a deer. Will we then ban runners? Or just shoot them?

Since I acknowledge that there are a lot of deer, and that we are but one community in the midst of a state-wide deer overpopulation issue, I’m not averse to the notion that something, perhaps, should be done. I will at least humor that notion. My first favorite response to overpopulation of deer is allowing the natural coyote population to return to healthy levels.

Except that one time that people in Lebo starting seeing coyotes, they freaked the hell out and wanted to kill those, too. If there’s one thing Lebonites dislike even more than deer eating their Hostas, it’s coyotes eating their Morkiepoos. So obviously that won’t work.

Well, ok. What about sterilization? That was one of the plans under consideration. Does would be tranquilized and sterilized in a mobile surgical suite. What on earth could be wrong with that?

Not fast enough. All the deer would remain alive. An entire deer generation-worth of Hostas would still be eaten. Natch.

So you see, an inhumane eradication procedure was really their only option. Won’t anybody think of Mt. Lebanon? The deer have made them be mean. It’s so sad.

Apparently, the deer have also rendered them terminally stupid, because here’s the thing: once they shoot all the captive deer, freeing their streets and thinning the herd, do they sincerely expect surrounding deer won’t move in? Are they going to build a fence? Do they suspect that the Upper St. Clair deer, and the Scott Township deer, and the Dormont deer will hear what happens in Mt. Lebanon and just . . . stay away? Do they honestly believe that deer even know where the boundaries of those communities are? I know Lebo thinks it’s the center of the universe and that everyone knows it, but I gotta say, I think the deer give about as many fucks as I do.

The deer want the space, we have the space. The deer aren’t going anywhere unless you build a bubble (true fact: there is not presently a bubble over Lebo to contain its rarified air. I repeat: won’t anyone think of them?) So all this really does is begin an endless cycle wherein portions of our green space are turned into mammalian massacre pens.

And you just know someone is going to bitch about having to look at the blood-soaked ground.

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