It was a very young deer. On a Friday a few weeks back, my wife and I stopped at Prairie View Cemetery to take some paperwork into the office. While my wife was doing that, Don, our sexton, came over and told me that there was an injured deer lying next to some grave stones.
We drove down there, and sure enough the deer was lying quietly next to the head stones. You could tell it was in pain and from time to time it put its head down flat on the ground. Don said that it was there when he got to work and had briefly run out into the field to lie down but shortly thereafter the deer returned to the cemetery.
Don thought the deer had been hit by a car and probably broke its hip or leg. Many thoughts run through your head at such a time. We could leave the deer where it was and ignore it. We could leave the deer there and hope it will run out in the field and die there. I don’t think either one of us wanted to kill it, or even if we did, how could we do it. Lake Hallie village ordinances prohibit the discharging of firearms in village limits, plus, if we shot and missed, the consequences of that could be problematic. So it was decided to call the Lake Hallie Police Department.
Betty Collins the Lake Hallie police dispatcher answered politely as she always does. Betty has been with the Hallie/Lake Hallie Police Department for 29 years. I think if I told her that aliens had just abducted Don, our sexton, she would ask for a description and which way they were heading. Probably she would call Don’s wife, Cheryl, and tell her not to expect Don home for supper for a while. Anyway, I told Betty about the problem, and she sent officer Bowman over.
Officer Bowman arrived, and we both walked toward the deer. It got up and ran about 2 rows to the east and laid down again. Its right leg would not support its weight. So officer Bowman took out his service weapon, made sure that there was nothing behind the deer, and with one shot later the deer was dead. Don came over with his pickup truck and took the deer out to his farm where it would become coyote food, as he said.
It has been years since I went deer hunting and killed a deer. Looking back, the fun was not in killing a deer but the fact that I had my extended family with me. We got by without a “modern sporting rifle,” which usually now is a variant of the M-16 military rifle — in short a semi-automatic gas operated rifle that shoots a very high speed bullet.
The weapons we used were simple: a Marlin 30-30 lever action, a 250/3000 Savage lever action, a 20 gauge pump action shotgun, and my brother-in-law had a very strange Russian bolt action rifle in a weird caliber 7.62x54 and 3 Winchester Model 97 30.30 lever action rifles. Every one of those guns required you to physically do something to get off more than 1 shot. Getting off a second shot was almost impossible, for we hunted in the brush country around Pray south of Neillsville in Clark County. After deer season, the guns were cleaned, oiled and put away until the next year. Then the guns were forgotten.
There are about 595,000 deer hunters in the woods today. Many will be carrying high powered semi-automatic weapons. Hopefully all are well trained and knowledgeable about their weapons. Hopefully all will remember several basic rules including: “Know your target and beyond,” “never point a gun at something unless you are going to shoot it,” “be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting,” “don’t rely on your gun’s safety,” “learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using” and the always popular but very often forgotten “treat all firearms as they were loaded”. This is not a sport for children.
Well these few words are not a hunter safety course but they will have to do for now. So if you are out deer hunting, have a safe and successful hunt.