Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, Deer

Ah, nothing like waking up on a weekend morning, knowing you don't have to get up early. You roll over to doze off again and - BOOM, BOOM, BOOM-BOOM! Yes, 'tis the season to go out and shoot a deer! I just don't get it. When we moved to this area nearly 20 years ago, it seemed like everyone either fished or hunted or both. We don't do either. Which means we are different and that's fine with me. But this season (which spans from, like, October until who knows when), it seems like I've been hearing gunfire a lot more. We live just on the other side of the hill from town but not that far from the rural area that becomes a hunter's dream this time of year. What's worse is that all year, we've been watching the deer grazing on the empty corner lot across the street and encountering deer all over the hill when we walk. It is no surprise that there are less deer sightings of late. Makes us sad, you know? How anyone can shoot such sweet-looking animals is beyond me.

I'm always wishing the hunters would go home empty-handed. Todd hopes they'll bag a deer soon so they'll stop shooting sooner and go home. These people even hunt when it's raining buckets or freezing cold! I'm laying snug in my warm bed and they're tramping around in the mud, soaked to the skin. My impression of them, at least. Certainly not my cup of tea.

Reminds me of a family I knew that was so excited one year because they'd gotten a bear tag. Apparently there is some kind of lottery-style set-up where only 50 or so people can hunt bear in the eastern part of our state. Getting a bear tag is big deal (who knew?)

Of course, not everyone adheres to the no-shooting-in-town ordinance. Last weekend, we heard the usual gunfire in the distance, mostly during the morning. But on Saturday night, around 10:15, we were in the kitchen when there was an extremely loud boom-boom, sounded just down the street. We live 3 houses down from a forested strip of land, where the deer live but is obviously within city limits. Of course, Todd was working (he always seems to be working when I hear noises at night). The kids and I looked at each other, wide-eyed. A few minutes later, there was another boom-boom. I called the non-emergency police line and began describing what I heard and where I was. The dispatcher said, "I know where you live, this is Wanda." I love it - only in a small town can you personally know the police dispatcher and she happens to live across the street from us! She said they had received other calls on this and were sending patrolmen out. After that, we just stayed away from the windows and I got everyone to bed. About 11:30, I heard another shot but it was dark down the cul-de-sac and I didn't see or hear anything else. Funny, we weren't afraid really, we just talked about who it could be and why.

It's certainly not the first time we've heard gunfire so close. Over the years we've been here, I've heard a random shot perhaps 4-5 times. A few days after we moved here, someone drove up the street, shooting the entire time. Todd and I were in bed and we instinctively ducked beneath the window at the head of our bed. You could hear the car going up the hill and turning toward town, still firing. I was shocked! Before we moved to town, we lived out in a rural area and I really don't recall hearing gunfire except out at the firing range. That's different. But in town? I think it was last year that I was home on a weekend night, Todd was working, and again, someone else drove up the street, shooting. Again, I heard them go up the hill, turn toward town and continue all the way to the main street down into town. I just ducked until they passed the house. Now, you know this could be very dangerous to someone but it probably isn't going to hurt you. Maybe. After both of these incidents, we checked on the kids just in case (their bedrooms face the street).

The closest to home was back when I was pregnant with Carmen (10 years ago, now). We were saying goodbye to guests and we heard what sounded like firecrackers popping. It was early summer so not such an odd sound to hear on a Saturday afternoon. A few minutes later, police pulled up at the side of our house and ran onto the back of our property and up onto our deck, guns pulled and aimed at the house behind us. It turned out that the troubled druggy teen that lived behind us was seen waving a gun out the window and a neighbor had called the police. An officer came to our door and suggested we leave the house. We gathered the boys and went to the beach. All was quiet when we returned and we later learned that the boy had been arrested. That's another story (and he has since moved out).

Our neighborhood is one of the best and safest areas of our town. However, guns are a big part of life in these parts. It's not uncommon to see a gun mounted in the rear window of a pick-up. But it's still foreign to me. I grew up in Southern California and guns and gunfire always meant big trouble. They can mean big trouble here, too, but not always. Unless you are a deer.


Cate said...

Oh my! Since we moved out here to this semi-rural area, I had never heard gun shots, and jump when I hear the odd rifle going. Hubby even bought an air rifle which freaked the daughter out so much that she can't handle even seeing it.

Guns are not part of the mainstream culture in NZ and Australia, so the situations your described would freak me out too!

jugglingpaynes said...

That sounds so scary. What are the laws like in your state? My husband was from a hunting family upstate, so I know our state is pretty strict. Aside from not hunting near towns, you also can't hunt at night. Is this true there too?

Where I am, the sound of gunshot usually means trouble. I hope you all stay safe there!

Peace and Laughter,

XOXO Jenna said...

In my area (Michigan) hunting his increased because so many people are out of work so they have taken it on as a way to help feed the family.