Posts Tagged ‘deer’

Thoughts on a snowy October evening

October 29, 2009

It’s October but outside it’s like deepest January. This beautiful doe showed up at the Hardscrabble Times world headquarters this evening just as I was signing out from an afternoon of work on a technical editing job. I actually took the photo through the window.


Dr.Phil Maffetone has weighed in on the flu vaccine and the debate over the H1N1 “swine flu.”

Since finishing “The Horse Boy” the other day hardly an hour has passed that I have not thought about the book, the story and autism. Of course I’m reminded of autism all the time since my son

Harrison is an “autist,” a word I picked up from the book.

Harrison goes to the Custer County Kid’s Club after Kindergarten some afternoons. Yesterday when I went to bring him home I had extreme difficulty getting him into the car, seated and buckled up. I’ll spare you the details but just know that there was no reasoning with him and this ended up being a 25-minute ordeal. At one point I was so frustrated I actually considered sitting down in the snow in the parking lot to cry. And I’m not overly prone to shedding tears.

There is a certain obsessive-compulsive component that goes along with Harrison’s autism. For instance, when leaving for school in the morning, he has to stand against the refrigerator and see the headlights through the front door window when I start the car. Then, he has to run to the car, get in the front seat and “steer” the wheel four times. Not three times and not five, but four. Then he will usually get in the back seat and we can drive to school.

Then there’s the blender. We make smoothies often, starting the Vita-Mix on low, then dialing it up, and finally hitting the high switch for a few seconds to crack the flax seeds. This is simple enough except we need to consider Harrison’s sense of order. He must be in the room when we turn it on. Sometimes he will turn it on for us. Then he runs to the bathroom and closes the door as we dial it up and turn it to high. Once there, he runs out and turns it off, first switching off the high switch, then dialing the speed down, and then finally turning the machine off.

Any deviation from this order and a tantrum is certain. For instance, the other morning he was in the bathroom when I started the blender. Bad idea. If you don’t allow him to turn it off himself all hell can break loose. If you didn’t add flax seeds and don’t need to switch it to high, you better switch it to high anyway or there will be trouble.

Yet even with all these strange challenges, there are moments that are truly amazing. This evening he pulled a book — one that we don’t often read to him —out of the bookshelf, and started reading it out loud. Had he memorized this book word and verse or was he actually reading it? I believe the latter, but either is remarkable.

According to several sources, Ted Andrews, author of “Animal Speak,” the most comprehensive book of animal totems, died this week at the age of 57. This book has been an amazing source of spirituality to me and I actually learned of Andrew’s death after looking up deer tonight in “Animal Speak.” His words on deer say it all: “When deer show up there is an opportunity to express gentle love that will open doors to adventure for you.”

The mysterious flopping deer

October 11, 2009

Out for a run this afternoon, I was on a steep downhill trail that cuts from one cul de sac to another in a nearby subdisivion. Downhill and to my right I saw a doe deer literally flopping down the hill. The animal appeared unable to gain its balance.

I stopped and watched as the deer came to a rest, then I walked down to get a closer look. The doe flopped over a couple more times then lay still. I looked her over as closely as possible and could see no broken legs or apparent gunshot wounds — which was my first guess since the first big game season opened yesterday.

A view of the Sangre de Cristo range from Bear Basin Ranch in the Wet Mountains.
A view of the Sangre de Cristo range from Bear Basin Ranch in the Wet Mountains.

I couldn’t see a thing outwardly wrong with this deer other than it could not stand on its own. So I continued on home and called Alex the homeowners’ association chief to see what he thought we should do. We decided to meet so he could get a look at the deer.

After looking it over we decided to call Colorado Division of Wildlife District Manager Zach Holder who after hearing the story over the phone asked if we could put the deer down since she was obviously incapacitated and in pain.

After the deer was dead, Alex and I inspected her carefully for wounds but could find none. I ran my fingers through the doe’s hair forward and backward looking for a wound. I was startled when I received a jolt of static electricity right through the fingertip of my leather glove, a strange machination of cold, dry air and hollow hair. Both Alex and I suspected some sort of neurological problem with the deer.

I reported all this back to Zach, who is coming out tomorrow morning to retrieve the deer’s head to be tested for chronic wasting disease. He said with only one confirmed case in this game management unit, fewer that 1 percent of the deer in the area are believed to be carrying the disease. It will be interesting to see what tests reveal about this deer I found today. Stay tuned.

For those who are interested, here’s a longer version of my tale, “Goodbye to Summer and Two Horses,” which started as a blog post but then became an essay that appeared in Colorado Central magazine this month.

Corral panels, eagles and mules

November 24, 2008

How to straighten out corral panels

fixedpanelMy friend and favorite old rancher guy, the late Virgil Lawson, once told me how to straighten out a bent steel corral panel — by driving a truck over it. I’ve been eying a bent panel since a horse snafu over at the ranch earlier this summer. So today I decided to give it a try. I set the panel down in the driveway and lined my truck tire over the most-bent round tube. Well, it straightened out the panel, all right, but it also flattened the round tubing and left a herringbone tire-tread pattern in the metal! I thought I heard Virgil’s hearty laugh from somewhere up in the sky, but the truck certainly took the bow out of that panel.

The eagles have to eat too

My friend and neighbor Kevin called this morning and told me about a dead buck deer near here that had a golden eagle feeding on it. I drove over to take a look and found local Colorado Division of Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Justin Krall conducting an autopsy of sorts. He wanted to rule out the possibility the deer had been shot. With the hide peeled back, no bullet holes were revealed, though there was one small puncture in the skin. Oddly there appeared to be some slits in the carcass that were not accompanied by matching cuts to the hide. From what he saw, Justin thought the deer died from internal injuries, either from fighting with other bucks, or from a run-in with an automobile, though there was no evidence of skid marks or vehicle debris on the road nearby. He took the head to test for chronic wasting disease. He said that the DOW has tested about 300 deer from this area in the last year and found no cases of CWD.eaglesmall

Later I drove back to the scene and found the eagle had returned along with a flock of magpies. The big bird lifted off the carcass and landed in a nearby tree where I was able to get an up-close photograph.

Man dies in fall from mule

Condolences go out to the family and friends of a 65-year-old Custer County man who died last week after he was reportedly thrown from a mule while riding near his home in the Antelope Valley area southeast of town.

Apparently Jerry Gregory’s neck was broken in the fall, and while it’s been labeled a freak accident, it is a reminder of the dangerous nature of equine activities.

A mule is a hybrid between a horse and a donkey, and can be quicker and more powerful than either of its parents.

I’ve had horses try to unseat me, but it’s been the donkeys that have put me on the ground. Twice I was dumped when donkeys spooked. Another time I was riding a slight downhill at a trot when my burro Ace stumbled and literally went down on his nose, pitched me over his shoulder and nearly rolled over on top of me. I landed with my forehead and shoulder hitting simultaneously and scrambled mightily to get out of the way.

Despite these wrecks, I still prefer riding a donkey because they rarely buck and are not inclined to run away for great distances like a horse. Generally, if spooked, a donkey will run a short distance, then turn back to see what scared them. Usually you can ride it out until they stop.