I’m pretty fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time in the outdoors. I’m also fortunate in living close to a variety of game animals. I get to watch them quite a bit. Mainly through a spotting scope but sometimes right in my front yard. This evening a crippled deer showed up again. We hadn’t seen her for a month or so and we figured she probably had died.
It’s hard to watch and you wish I could do something to help her, but it’s the ugly part of nature. That’s why we look so long when we have downed a bird and can’t find it. We respect animals and don’t want to see them suffer.
How this deer was injured will never be known, but in this case it wasn’t hunting related. It could have been hit by a car, stepped in a hole while fleeing a predator or a number of other things. Watching her reminded me of the many encounters I have had with this type thing over my 55 years of hunting. Some of them turned out good and some weren’t pretty.
On three different occasions I have come across mule deer caught up in barbed wire fencing. Two of the cases were successful releases and I believe the deer survived. Not without stripping a little extra skin off both them and me. A little tip, don’t use your hunting shirt to cover the deer’s head, because it probably won’t be wearable afterwards. The third deer, I believe, didn’t make it. It was too weak to struggle and I left it laying by some sage after I freed it. I’d like to think it made it but I think about the reality of nature and something else survived because of it’s death.
Sometimes nature fools you. Take this elk, who lost the lower part of her hind leg. The injury had to have been quite some time before I snapped this shot. Her leg seems to have healed over and I’m telling you it didn’t slow her down at all.
Many times the wound is superficial and whether than wonder if the animal will survive, we wonder how that happened.
And then there are the times when you see no escape from reality. This cow elk was definitely on her last winter and probably her last week.
She literally let me walk up to her and snap this picture. Sadly, game animals get old and die just like our canine friends. The only difference is that elk didn’t dedicate his life to me.
This bull is questionable as to whether he made it or not. As you can see he is very shaggy and skinny but he still had enough gumption to walk off after this shot.
There was no hurry in his step but at least I though maybe as I parted.
Then there are the many instances where the inevitable has already happened and you just wonder how and why.
Although I’d rather see the other side of wildlife, I know that in the end their death means life for something else along the way. Even in these uglier moments I can enjoy the outdoors.