Mark and the Deer

Posted on November 25, 2013

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How a dead deer brought up memories of a friend

As I have written before, we live in one of the few quasi-rural areas left in the DC vicinity.  We get a lot of wildlife in close quarters here – foxes, groundhogs, possums, raccoons, deer – and I think we see them so often because they have so little forest and field to roam in our ever-expanding suburbia.  We enjoy seeing them around.  We don’t much mind them on our lawn or in our flower beds.

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I have also written previously that our little corner is witness to a lot of crazy traffic-related things.  A couple of nights ago, as commuters rushed by on our rural road, in a hurry and traveling too fast in the dark, I heard the screeching of tires and then a loud impact.  I peeked out the window and saw someone pulled over, so I went out to see if help was needed.  Emerging from the dark woods, I asked, “Are you okay?”  “Yes, we just hit a deer.”  And there he was, lying in the traffic lane, a handsome buck with one antler broken off and cars swerving around him.  This had been one of those collisions where the deer runs straight into the side of the car.  I’m usually quick to blame inattentive, speeding drivers for these things, but there was nothing the driver could have done in this case.

Sometimes, a struck deer is just stunned.  What if he’s alive, I thought.  And what if these swerving cars end up hitting each other… the right thing to do was to pull him out of the road, so I waited for a break in the traffic, and then dragged him onto the grass and put my hand on his side.   He was too still.  Then the driver came over with a flashlight, and I could see why.  It was obvious he had died quickly.  “What should I do?” asked the driver.

It was a quick kill, head injury, the body untouched.  A fat, healthy buck, dead only minutes, and during hunting season, to boot.

My mind turned to my friend Mark, a former Pentagon co-worker.  He was an avid bowhunter.  Every fall, he would put one or two deer away in a large freezer, and that was the family’s main source of meat.  If I called him, he would know what to do with the deer and he certainly wouldn’t turn down the free meat.  He would have come and picked the deer up and taken it home.

But Mark had died in Afghanistan four years ago, and I didn’t know any other hunters here locally.  There wasn’t really anything else to do, except maybe call 911 and ask them to send Animal Control to pick it up, or whatever the procedure is.  The driver left.  I went back inside.

The deer is still out there, and every time I see it, I think of Mark, my funny, cheery co-worker, who knew so much about deer, and who would have come and gotten it.

And I think about a roadside in Afghanistan.

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