Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sometimes The Killing Is Hard To Accept

As we approached the area of the lake that we had fished the evening before, I could see something on the ice that wasn't there previously. Could it be a coat we had left, maybe a tumbleweed, maybe a coyote eating our dead minnows? The four of us approached slowly and without words. We were all hunters, but seeing this young mule deer that had died in the past eight hours, still struck a nerve with us.
It was obviously a violent, gruesome death, nothing I could publish in MSJ. The coyotes had killed the deer, on the ice, a place where deer are very vulnerable. Blood was pooled in a couple of different areas, patches of hide were drifting with the wind across the frozen lake. The coyotes probably numbered at least three from the number of tracks leading away from the kill site, possibly more.
I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for the mule deer. I tried to lessen the animal's struggle, thinking maybe it was sick, injured or was just dragged on the ice, already dead. Doubtful, I knew. Even as a hunter, someone who is also at the top of the food chain, I wish I didn't have to visualize what took place on the ice that night.
One of my companions was more at peace with the event. His rationale was fair and factual- sure one deer died, but that pack of coyotes, coyotes that struggle day after day to find food to stay alive, succeeded and earned another week or two on this earth. Survivors. Hunters. Just like us.

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