A Tale of Interspecies Mayhem on a Boiling Hot July Day
Growing up in Alabama, I had never seen a deer other than Bambi at the mill-village picture show.
This changed rapidly in the sixties after the Montgomery gang let their inner Daniel Boone get the better of them and introduced the annoying pests back into our sweet home Alabama.
Everybody has seen plenty of deer now – eating our gardens, munching our shrubbery, picking them out of our car’s grill after a dim-witted white-tail loses a deer-styled game of chicken.
One of the hordes of hurtling motorist who rocket down our road – with more foot on the accelerator than brains in their noggin – hit a large pregnant female deer in front of our house during the night, killing her instantly. The impact shattered the deer’s legs and hurled the hapless critter into my wife’s front yard cactus bed. (Folks who collect and proudly display cacti are different from normal carbon-based lifeforms, but that is a subject for another recollection.)
The car must have been traveling 80 MPH to have knocked the large deer that far and rendered such physical damage. The speed limit on our street is only 25. But I take my life in my hands every time I pull out of my driveway. People come by here on bicycles going faster than that.
However, the deed was done. While It was not of my choosing, I had no choice but to deal with it. (Same as when an innocent female, minding her own business, has to deal with her cherished private parts being grabbed by the current occupant of the Oval Office when he’s in rut. )
A dead deer in my yard raised the problem of how to move the quickly decomposing corpse. A patriotic American, and Trump buddy, had bought the cotton-mill where I worked for nearly 50 years and moved my job to Pakistan. What a guy! This turn of events caused me to sell my old pick-up truck, leaving me without means of dead-deer removal.
Rolling the metaphorical dice, I called my neighbor, the County Commissioner, to meekly ask if he would have a county truck come and remove the deer.
He replied gruffly that he couldn’t help me, not on a Saturday, anyway. Between loud slurps of what I assumed to be coffee, he added that maybe he could do something Monday if I called back and hadn’t made other arrangements. (He got trounced 3 to 1 in the recent election primary and was understandably still sorta grumpy.)
So, I called the Sheriff’s Office and asked if they could remove the deer for me. The sweet thang working weekends who answered the phone asked me if the deer was in the road.
I told her no; the impact had knocked the deer into our yard. She replied. “Well then, it ain’t our problem. Not if it ain’t blocking traffic.” (Note to self: Next dead deer found in yard to be dragged into road. ASAP.)
She added she didn’t have “no idea” who might could move a dead deer out of our yard, but I could call back on Monday.
I told her that by Monday, we would have to leave home because of the smell. She said, ” I’m ‘sho am sorry. That’s the best I can do.” She said if she saw somebody who “might could help,” she would send them out.
Yeah, right! I’d see the Sheriff’s Dept. truck when I saw a flock of pigs fly over, being chased by a red UFO with racing stripes and mud flaps.
So, I phoned the Commissioner again and asked him, provided I could borrow a truck, would he have somebody open the landfill?
He was through slurping by then. Instead, he was chewing on something, which from the ungodly smacking and chomping, sounded like he might have been eating a patched-up rubber inner tube.
Pausing from his energetic mastication, he barked that opening the landfill was out of the question, and I should know it.
I was beginning to regret that I had voted for him.
I asked him what he suggested I do with the dead deer – it was already nearly 100 degrees and the deer was getting fragrant in the noon-day sun.
In a really condescending voice, like he was shaming a defeated political opponent, my neighbor, commissioner, and public servant asked sarcastically if I had thought about burying the departed animal.
His hateful sneer was almost visible over the phone.
I quickly informed him that there was no way I was digging a hole big enough to bury a 180-pound deer in this heat. If I did that, they could probably bury me with the deer.
I told him I would just haul the deer out in the sticks somewhere and dump it if I could find a truck.
He said okay, if that’s what I wanted to do, but I would be taking a mighty big chance because if I got caught I would be arrested and fined $500 for illegal dumping. (Illegal dumping for removing a deer carcass that some speeding scofflaw knocked into my yard? WHAT THE HELL!!! I wonder what they call leaving a dead deer at the scene – a gift from a secret admirer?)
My son Nathan always drives a truck and had just bought a new Chevy Silverado. I thought it was his weekend to work but decided to call and leave a message for him to phone me when he got home.
To my great relief Nate answered on the first ring. He wasn’t working after all. Being a dutiful son he came right over and we loaded the deer in his truck. It took both of us to lift it and then it was a struggle.
We tried to lift it by the legs and since they were all broken. It was like ‘rassling with an octopus. It was hard to get a grip. (Damn, that deer was heavy! Nate used to be the Alabama Super Heavyweight Powerlifting Champion — so it wasn’t just me.)
When we lifted the deer off the ground a gazillion or so hungry ants had already swarmed its mangled body. (Say what you will about ants – they seem to have the best communication system in the animal kingdom. They all get the message at the same time.)
Luckily for me all of the voracious ants scurried onto Nate, who was wearing only shorts and a tank-top. Biting, angry ants covered all 300 pounds of him.
Nate didn’t realize the ants had launched a Blitz Krieg on his large torso until we got down the road a short piece. He swerved into an empty church parking lot, jumped out of the truck and started frantically dancing and scraping ants off. (As a rule, Nate doesn’t cuss, but he made an exception that day.)
Being as I was his doting daddy, seeing him singled out for such painful distress really hurt me in a way. I would have felt much better if just a few ants had attacked me, just to be fair. I deeply regretted that that I had been spared. But that’s the way it happened. Who knows the why of these things?
When I told Nate what the Commissioner said about being arrested and fined for dumping a dead deer, he thought a minute and exclaimed that he knew the perfect place. He quickly informed me about an old narrow dirt road in a remote area of the community. There were no houses on the one-lane road, and it snaked for miles though thick woods.
Nate further explained that when he was in high school, kids used to drink beer and smoke pot on that isolated road. Catching himself he quickly added that, at least, he had heard rumors that such nefarious conduct had taken place.
He glanced sideways at me to see my reaction. I pretended not to have heard the details. I had more pressing problems other than what teen-age goof-ballery he might or might not have practiced in high school. We’ve all been there.
Before long, we had reached the dirt road and turned off the highway.
Nate said we’d better ride down the dirt road a piece where we would be sure not to be seen.
Events were proceeding so well, I began to relax a bit. Even made a few jokes. Prematurely, as it turned out.
As we eased down the narrow road looking for a suitable final resting place for Bambi’s mother, we rounded a blind curve and – to our utter astonished horror – almost rear-ended a parked police cruiser.
At first, I thought I might be hallucinating because of the heat, but no. There blocking the narrow road the ominous vehicle sat, motor idling, arrogant blue flights flashing, and a scowling cop standing outside sweating in the July heat. Red-faced, he stared at us with what can only be described as utter contempt.
This Blue Knight had stopped another car which was parked in front of him. The car’s frightened occupant – a rather unkempt, shaggy, crack-head-looking dude, leaned against the patrol car, arms folded, as the cop shaking his finger in his face “talked ugly” to him.
Whatever this pilgrim had done had really upset the policeman. Spit flew when he chastised the cringing young fellow. He seemed on the verge of some creative, spur-of-the-moment police brutality.
Within five seconds, before Nate could back off the cop’s bumper, a rural mail carrier pulled in behind us in a Post Office Jeep with all the lights flashing.
The postman stopped so close we were trapped between the post office jeep and an angry policeman. There wasn’t room to back up or pull around the cop and his detainee.
Sensing all sorts of dire possibilities I said, “If that cop comes over here and looks in the back of this truck, we’ve had it. He’ll know exactly what we’re up to. And he already looks pissed off.”
Nate, who could bench-press over 500 pounds, worked weekends as a bouncer in beer joints and various fighting and dancing clubs, was normally slow to rattle. But even he seemed a tad concerned over my comment.
He said urgently, “Don’t even think about him checking the truck – not for a second.”
So, we tried not to think about that, not even for a second. Neither of us is very religious, but we offered up some serious, heartfelt silent prayers there for a few minutes.
Finally, the cop let the other driver go and got back in his patrol car, after giving us a really nasty look. Never saw a more serious expression of unhappiness with his work on a fellow’s face.
After the patrol car moved a way down the road, we slowly pulled in behind the cop and followed him and the other car over to the highway. The postman was right behind us.
We couldn’t stop and there was nowhere to turn off. The deer’s funeral procession was getting really long. She was getting a royal deluxe sendoff.
I doubt there will be that many cars in my funeral procession. Hopefully, that ceremony won’t happen after a car knocks me a 100 feet into some old lady’s beloved cactus bed.
We followed the cop for a couple of miles until he turned back to town and we quickly turned around and headed back to the dirt road.
There was nobody on it this time, unless it was some meth dealer hiding in the woods. We had the deer out of the truck bed in about five seconds and hauled ass.
I didn’t think I could still move that fast. We knew we had to work quickly before a tour bus or Army convoy, or the governor’s motorcade came through that way.
Or a troop of hiking Boy Scouts. Who knew that damn crappy one lane dirt road was so popular?
The deer left some blood pooled in the bed of Nate’s new Silverado. He is really picky about his rides. Feeling I owed him, I told him to drive by the car wash in town and I would pay to have his truck cleaned. But, when we got there, I discovered that I had left my billfold at home. Nate sighed and pulled out his wallet and paid for the wash.
It was an honest mistake. God knows I intended to pay to get the boy’s truck washed. I owed him that.
I would even have bought Nate a cold Coke, but I had only three quarters in my pocket. Just enough to buy a frosty one for myself and I was sho’ ’nuff thirsty.
It’s hot work foolin’ with a heavy dead deer carcass in 100 degree heat. Nate seemed to understand. He just shook his head and didn’t say anything.
I just realized that there is a risk in having this published. I just admitted that I illegally dumped a deer carcass and gave pretty good directions as to the location.
Well, I tried the “legal” way and they wouldn’t let me. What’s a fella to do? Sometimes, they force you into a life of crime.
If I’m not mistaken, that’s what happened to Jesse James.
Ever Did The Cows Come Home?, JL Strickland’s collection of essays, insight, and divine inspiration is now available from Amazon Kindle. Reasonably priced, the eBook is cheaper than a cold beer and a pickled egg.