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Outdoors Outpost
Oh, Deer
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 • Posted January 17, 2014

Not everyone in America is crazy.

OK, when you watch the news or read a paper, it often seems like the entire country is nuts, but it’s really not quite that bad. Granted, there are pockets of rampant insanity, such as the one in Cook County, Illinios. And California is mostly a lost cause, and has been for some time. The folks out there seem to be drinking whatever Charlie Sheen is having. But across the nation there are indications that people are pretty smart. The citizens of Durham, North Carolina, for example.

This past November the Durham city council voted to authorize bow hunting inside the city limits. The deer situation has gotten so bad there it’s not safe to go outside a house with an ear of corn. No flowerbed has been left unmunched, and it was either start controlling the venison or begin electing deer to public office.

Overpopulatin of deer is a problem in many places these days, not only because of the danger they present to young children playing outside, or the damage they do to shrubbery and automobile grills, but also because of diseases they carry that are communicable to humans, such as lyme disease. Anytime a safe haven is offered, where animals know they can live unmolested, the population increases to unhealthy levels. And it’s as bad for the wildlife as it is for the humans involved.

Rock Island, Illinois also decided last year to allow bowhunting in town, at least in ‘green spaces,’ according to a December ‘TIME’ cover story. Rock Island residents can now arrow deer on golf courses and in parks and cemeteries, as well as on private land. The anti-hunting crowd doesn’t like it, but something had to be done.

The bunny huggers are livid over a decision made by San Jose, California leaders last October, allowing the hunting of wild pigs inside the city limits. San Jose sits squarely in silicon valley, but regardless of the hue and cry, pigs are doing far too much damage to overlook. California doesn’t have the pork problem Texas does, but it’s getting there.

And hunting works better for controlling wildlife than anything else that’s been tried to date, although the animal rights crowd never tires in its quest for a viable, non-lethal solution to a problem even the Flower Children can’t ignore any longer. One of the most popular failed experiments is sterilization, which has gone from a nutty, isolated occurrence to a news tidbit so common it’s not news anymore. Even cities in traditionally hunter-friendly states, such as Virginia, are jumping on the sterilization bandwagon now.

Six-square-mile Fairfax City, Virginia is one of the most recent burgs to adopt sterilization of deer to control the rising population. The procedure requires at least a crew of three, and the number of man-hours alone for such an endeavor is staggering. The deer must be located, shot with a tranquilizer dart (equipped with a GPS tracker), and brought to a veterinarian. The vet operates to remove the animal’s ovaries, and the deer is returned to the spot where it was captured. The whole operation must be overseen by a law enforcement officer. Barney Fife would be my choice.

Whoever came up with this idea seems to be unclear on a few key points. As a hunter I can attest to the fact that deer seldom cooperate with humans who desire to perforate their hides with sharp, metal objects. They run away. Even if all the deer in Fairfax were tame, which I seriously doubt, some of them are bound to be difficult to locate at a convenient time. They wander. It’s part of their job description.

But let’s say we can get past all the obvious hurdles and dart every female deer in Fairfax City, remove her ovaries, and replace her gently into the environment, without going broke or expiring from the humiliation of being laughed at by the rest of the nation. Whitetail deer live about five years, so even the youngest does involved will only be around another four years or so. Then new ones move in, and we have to start all over again.

And then there’s the question of violating the rights of the does. If we choose sterilization as a non-lethal population control method, at least part of the reason for that must be because we believe they have a right to life, or so I assume. If that’s our position, then it follows that they also have a right to retain control of their reproductive systems, which right we are violating by removing their ovaries without the written consent of the party of the first part, namely the doe. I’d have to check with a lawyer about that, but I don’t speak that language, so I won’t.

There’s also the human rights side of the story. A lot of homeless peole could be fed with the meat of harvested urban deer, which would kind of kill two deer with one shot, so to speak. Not to mention the homeless people who could be fed if city folks chose to spend money on them instead of feeding the deer in their backyards. But that’s another issue, I guess.

But to be honest, I, myself, participate in deer sterilization programs on a regular basis. Once I cook venison at 140 degrees or higher, it’s sterile . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who perfers fried venison to the live kind. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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