I found another deer a few days ago on the other side of the chain link fence around a baseball diamond, close to first base. He was a young buck lying on his side, struggling, but he couldn’t move his back legs. He was only 150 feet or so away from the camper, and as soon as I saw him I took Roo back and put her inside. When I came back and got close enough to try to see what was wrong with him, it only terrified him and made him thrash, so I backed off. He had some blood on his chest. I called around in the dim hope that some wildlife rehabilitator might be able to help, but everyone I spoke to said the deer would have to be shot. It looked like he had been already.
A woman at the camp knew the game warden and called him. He was only about 15 minutes away. Before he got there, officialdom had been set in motion and some cop showed up and asked me where the deer was and I told him, “Over there. Getting closer just scares him and makes him thrash around. I thought it’d be better to let him have some calm.”
“Probably one of these guys up in here that’s got a silencer. They like to pop ‘em for fun.”
“What an asshole thing to do,” I said. “And silencers. Great.”
I understood from the dirty look he gave me that he had been referring to popping ‘em with a silencer as something admirable. The way the Second Amendment guarantees a man’s right to maim wildlife in residential neighborhoods. For fun.
The cop was one of those cops who became a cop to get revenge. He still wore the Moe haircut the other kids in middle school must have tortured him about. It clashed with his high-tech Robo Cop mirrored wraparound sunglasses.
Of course the dumbass had to drive around the fence and park his SUV cruiser right in front of the deer and get out and look him over and terrorize him. He wore his Taser in front like a codpiece and was festooned with more gear than a Navy SEAL. All that for a rural Virginia beat. Granted, he probably came up against the random meth head from time to time, but he was wearing the kind of gear you wear on the day ISIS shows up to shove sharia law up the Commonwealth of Virginia’s ass.
He stood right next to the deer and terrorized him. He wouldn’t give him the twenty feet that would have kept him from thrashing around. I hate to see fear in an animal. I hate to see it in anyone. Nothing is worse than fear. In the end, fear is the only thing that alone who is scared of death is scared of. Death is nothing. What people and animals are scared of is what it feels like to die.
“Any chance you could give that deer a little room?” I said to the cop. He gave me a look I’ve seen before from that kind of cop. The look of someone who has to remember how to spell “Resisting Arrest,” no matter how many times he charged someone who didn’t resist a thing with it.
He wouldn’t move away from the deer. I figured that he’d make more of a point of it if I was there. I wasn’t doing any good, anyway. The game warden would be there and I had to get to Roo before a gunshot.
I heard the game warden show up as I got to the camper. He was a professional and not interested in letting the deer suffer. He waved the cop aside and before I had the door open to get to Roo he leveled his pistol at the deer’s head and shot him. I opened the door and was surprised that Roo hadn’t bolted to a corner. She must have been asleep. It set her a little on edge, but that was it. I left her inside and, I don’t know why, went back to the deer. They were looking him over, moving his foreleg up to get a look at his chest. The deer didn’t seem dead.
“That’s just nerves,” the game warden said to me.
“You sure?” I said. I hated the whole thing. The whole planet. The whole universe for requiring so much suffering and destruction all the time, all of it, from all the stars blowing up all the time and galaxies colliding 15 billion light years away to people getting bombed and lynched here to ants getting squashed to shitheads with drinking Bud Lites and shooting deer from their back yards with silencers because they think it’s fun, even if the occasional stray bullet cripples a four-year-old playing in a swing set in the neighbor’s yard from time to time. That’s the sound of Liberty you hear. That's the sound of the Second Amendment, son. The only goddamn part of the Constitution of the United States handed down to man by Jesus Himself.
“No, he’s not feeling anything,” the game warden said to me. “You can see where I hit him, and that’s with a .40 caliber.”
“Musta been one of these guys up in here got silencers shot him,” the cop said. “They do shit like that. You know that anybody with a FFL can get a silencer?” He grabbed the deer’s foreleg and the deer jerked it back.
What the hell was with this cop. “Why don't you let him die in peace?” I said.
The cop looked at me. He stood up. He couldn't help himself and he poked the deer in the chest with his boot.
“Are you sure that deer doesn’t need a second shot?” I said to the warden. It wasn’t as if I liked anyone shooting a gun off a hundred feet from Roo.
“Naw. That’s just nerves,” he said. “Can you get Public Works to come out and get him?” the game warden said to the cop.
“Yeah, but they’re done for today. They'll get him tomorrow.”
“Well, it’s cold enough that he won’t start stinking or anything,” the game warden said. Eventually the deer died. The game warden and the cop got in their vehicles and left. I stayed with the deer for a while and, maybe because I’ve been writing about what happened in the Himalaya and it came to mind, said a small Tibetan prayer they say over there to honor the spirits of animals when they die. I probably got it wrong but it couldn’t hurt. Nothing would have mattered but whether it was heartfelt.
I went back to get Roo out of the camper and take her for a walk. Nearby, a man was walking a fat Chihuahua. I went over and said, “If you could use a deer, there’s one here that hasn’t been dead more than fifteen minutes.”
“What happened to it?” he said.
“He was lying hurt in the baseball field. The game warden came and shot him.”
“Yeah, he was a good deer,” I said.
“Be a shame to let it go to waste.” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “It would be.”
“Well, my brother would probably like him. I’ll give him a call."
About 20 minutes later his brother showed up in an old pickup, painted in matte primer green, all the better to keep from glinting in the woods. Roo and I were back in the camper by then and I saw them from the window. He was a big guy. He dropped the tailgate of his truck and picked the little buck up by all four legs and swung him up and into the bed. He and his brother talked out there for a couple of minutes, maybe about the way things work out sometimes, and then the one brother drove off while the other went the other way with Eddie, which was what I found out the Chihuahua was named.
Later, Roo found the spot where the deer died and licked the frozen blood from the grass. She was as intent as a wolf, and I didn't stop her. She spent a long time there.