Saturday, June 21, 2008

View FromThe Porch

"Deer in Orchard"
Jan Gibson

This is a quick snapshot I took this morning of a doe in our back orchard. She is eating some of the green apples that are falling. The trees are loaded this year and are doing some self-thinning even though my husband has been doing a lot of thinning himself on both the apple and peach trees.

It appears the fruit trees will have an abundant crop this year if all goes well. I think the deer and other animals are taking advantage of the fallen fruit and eating their fill before we can get out to clean up under the trees. I suppose they're helping us to a certain extent but they don't eat everything. The deer tend to take one bite out of each apple then leave the rest for some reason. Maybe they're sampling each apple trying to find a ripe one - who knows with deer! So, they actually don't help a lot and sometimes leave more of a mess than what was there to begin with. They also "deposit" some undesirable elements such as feces and ticks. Ticks have been very bad this year and much of the tick problem is due to the deer population wandering around our property.

Although I don't hunt myself, I'm very much a hunting advocate as I've seen what can happen when any animal population grows as quickly as the deer herds around here do. But, my husband doesn't hunt either and doesn't want anyone else hunting on our property. I can't blame him. We allowed a couple of people to hunt when we first moved here about 20 years ago. We thought these individuals would be responsible hunters but they left gates open and really stirred up my horse and the cows we had at the time when they pulled into the yard well before daylight. They also left the trash from their snacks and invited their friends to hunt with them when we had specifically asked them not to. Needless to say, hunting is no longer allowed here.

It's a shame as deer cause more accidents around here than just about anything else. It's hard to find a driver out this way who hasn't had either an accident or near-accident involving a deer. Plus, since there are few natural predators left around here, the deer are becoming smaller and I see some that are crippled or otherwise abnormal.

I agree that the deer are beautiful and that my position on hunting is not a popular one. However, many of the hunters around here rely on hunting to add to the family's table. Most are not just trophy hunters. I'm sure this year with food prices skyrocketing that there will be even more hunters out there trying to cut the grocery bill. I would gladly share the deer population here with them if I could - both for the sake of the hunter's families and the deer themselves!

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