In Brief—Memories of an autumn afternoon when a little deer came to die.
Tears for A Little Deer—
She lay quietly next to the fence hard by the forest and the trail down the side of the hill. Nearby stood the feeder where the birds, squirrels and deer came each day to feed. Autumn’s leaves covered the ground where a cushion of sunflower seeds and shells waited expectantly for winter’s first snow.
She was a small deer, no bigger than a large dog. Her grey-brown coat showed no signs of blood while her long graceful legs appeared to be unbroken. As I looked out the kitchen window at the new arrival, she seemed calm, almost as if resting, but the thought crossed my mind that it was unusual for a normally skittish deer to be resting so calmly.
In an effort not to frighten her, I quietly approached murmuring low, calming reassurance. Her large, dark eyes followed me as if expecting a threat, but she made no move to flee. Gradually, she seemed to relax when she realized I intended no harm. I like to think now that she was merely curious.
A chill was in the afternoon air, so thinking that she might be cold, I went to the nearby garage and retrieved an old blanket. Returning, I gently covered her with the blanket, but she remained still watching me. That alone was unusual. I began to wonder what I should do.
At last, naively thinking that she would be well taken care of, I called Animal Control. In just a few minutes, a truck crunched up the gravel driveway. A man emerged and followed me to the little deer. He bent, looked at her and opined that she may have been hit by a car and made her way to a place of comfort to die. It would be better to put her out of her misery. Shocked, I pointed out that she showed no signs of being in misery. Rather it was as if she simply needed to lie quietly for a while and heal if, indeed, she was injured. Despite this, he turned and went to his truck.
When he returned, he held a small caliber rifle. I knew immediately what was intended. She watched him as if resigned to her fate, her big dark eyes following him. Frozen in horror, I watched him place the muzzle of the rifle near her forehead. It wasn’t loud. One shot brought forth a brief fountain of blood. This beautiful little deer was dead.
He gathered her little legs together and carried her like a rag doll, head lolling, to his truck… and he was gone. She was gone. I stood in disbelief at what had happened. Slowly, almost reverently, I gathered up the now empty blanket and returned it to the garage.
To this day, I wonder if I did the right thing or if I brought about her death. Sometimes, as now, the memory of that beautiful little deer creeps back to haunt me. It will until my last day.