Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Tuesday, the 17th of July, the 28th day of summer, the mink ends summer for the mallard mother of eight. On the day of the White-tail deer, the mink has 66 summer days to hunt.

I can't stand the carnage and predation today. Not to dwell upon it,
but I have three lawyers dining at my table. So to speak. It's a long
story. It's enough to make a fellow buy a ticket for Paris, France and
sleep on the shores of the River Seine. But I am pretty determined to
tool up in the legal department, start hitting Rocket Lawyer and Legal
Zoom, and starting developing the skills of a good paralegal. At
least, I'll have a head start on a career as a jailhouse lawyer if I
am ever sent to Club Fed. Today, I was explaining legal process to a
Vice President of Finance.

When I arrived at the corner of US-31 and Norton, two Pro-Med
ambulances, three fire trucks and three police cruisers had parked
around a two car collision. I had an accident at this dangerous
corner, October 2010, but in the "so called" off ramp to Westbound
Norton Boulevard. I was smacked by a truck.

As it looked, a south bound driver in a green Pontiac sedan collided
with another car, which might have driven off. I suspect the drive-off
because the green Pontiac sedan had thrown its bumper and much of its
fascia. A red Pontiac Vibe from Tradewinds motor car was being
transported by a porter, and he had two friends coming along for the
ride. From Port City Cab and Limo to Muskegon Area Transit to used car
lot porters, girlfriends ride with their men who drive. Although with
the cab companies, sometimes I wonder if a few of those woman in the
front seat have a destination and an assignation after I am dropped
off. The taxi cab isn't the only place where the meter runs. The red
Pontiac was lightly damaged and was able to drive away under its own
power, no risk to damaging the car by driving it. It would be hard for
a Pontiac to accumulate that much damage without hitting another
object hard.

Eight staff, most from the Norton Shores Fire Department, struggled to
pop open the sedan's doors and extract the two passengers. A man was
extracted on a neck brace board and rolled to a Pro-Med ambulance. He
had an air brace on his left arm. A woman, who looked unconscious but
obviously stable, was extracted on a neck brack board, and she was
secured with tape and bubble wrap. She was rolled to the second
Pro-Med ambulance, on a Stryker gurney. Police directed traffic
through the scene in the southbound lanes, and a member of the fire
department snapped photographs from every angle. An officer in a
reflective vest took a statement from the porter. As soon as the
ambulance loaded, I pedaled south. The porter of the red Vibe was
cleared to leave the accident scene.

I was settling down to write and drink PBR and I heard a extraordinary
thrashing in the water. I saw a mother mallard amongst her brood of
eight quacking and whacking the water with her wings. She was
desperately trying to take flight. A weight was preventing her rise
from the water, and at first, it looked as if a pike or a bass had her
leg. Mallard mothers around her took off in all directions. Her
ducklings, eight in total, floated inches from mother, looking at her
drastic, spastic movements. The mink came to the surface where I could
see its fur, and in a few second, the mallard lost energy and her
splashing quieted. As her ducklings looked onward, not understanding,
the mink pulled mother mallard into the lily pads for dinner. The
ducklings remained in a circle of ducklings and a few ducklings
quacked plaintively. I wish I had set a Go-Pro to capture the
unfortunate event, just so I could tell that one of those ducklings
took flight. Should I have broken up the attack? I was sitting behind
a screen window on the second floor, and I didn't have a 22 Caliber
Rifle. By the time I made it close to the water, descending my back
stairway, my thrown rocks would have mattered little. Or so I think.
Ducks are friends and not food, Mr. Mink.Should I interrupt in the
naturalism of the universe? I wish a lawyer and an accountant would
intervene in the snacking of lawyers upon my life. Lately, I find
myself only asking for the phone numbers of women I meet who are
either lawyers or accountants. Yeah, good luck with that!

Today is the day of the White-Tail deer. I saw a doe and her two fawns
on the lawn of Rix Robinson Park, on Grand Isle between Grand Haven
and Spring Lake, near the new location of Skipper Buds. The Isle lies
between two branches of the Grand River, one almost a slough. The park
has a sloppy, rank uncared for look, but the ponds still team with
aquaculture. Fortunately, the family of three ungulates, who move on
their toes, help to keep the grass and weeds down. City sent a
bushwacker through a field a week back or so. The one doe had spots,
lost in the fall. A doe often gives birth to three fawns, and this doe
was one short. She perceived me as a threat when I pulled out my Nexus
cellphone for a picture, and she turned her alert and erect white tail
to me. "Talk to the tail", she was saying. Her two does attended their
mother, and gazed at her, awaiting her next move. She must have rated
me an annoyance and no threat, and she walked over to the grassy
embankment leading up to US-31 and looked back at me. Her two does
followed. When I pointed the threesome out to a jogger, who stopped
and pulled out her earplugs to chat with me, the threesome looked at
her and ignored me. After gazing at her for two minutes, the threesome
vanished into a path between the road and a pond. The threesome had no
idea how vulnerable the road and the two branches of the river made
them to predators, if deer in Michigan had natural predators.

The cougar makes occasional assaults on farm animals, leaving its
teethmark on the hip bones of cows. Coyotes stalk the animal paths of
West Michigan, but chickens make easier prey. Crows, foxes and raptors
find it easier to eat venison from the bodies of roadkill deer. A crow
has taken on a deer by pecking its eyes to death. A bald eagle has
tried to take a fawn with its talons. For the most part, man and cars
driving at night are the only predators of White-tail deer. In 1930,
deer were granted protection against being hunter for commercial sale
and the Civilian Conservation Corp replanted all the forests clear cut
by lumberjacks. The deer population explored from a low of 30,000 to a
recent count estimated at 30 million. If only deer could take out
mortgages. Deer on Harbor Isle and in the cemetery near Duncan Woods
threatened to eat all the young trees and undergrowth, dooming the
forests to failure. So sharpshooters trained to cull deer reduced the
population. The deer cull proved to be popular and unpopular. An
anonymous man felt the cull hadn't reduced number far enough, and he
dropped two or three deer in the nearby cemetery, where the carcasses
were allowed to rot and attract attention. When a man cracks in Grand
Haven, it makes the news and people compare notes to gather the story
and find the man. I think he was a community leader, and he now has a
different life.

I grew up with thousands of deer living their lives around my parent's
farm, which was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of corn,
wheat and soybean. Lakes, streams and woodlots abounded. Deer fatten
themselves on the corn, and the farmers take them with buck and doe
permits, in seasons from muzzle loader to bow and arrow to rifle. I am
pretty sure a deadfall season might be added. The farmers build tree
houses, houses on stands and shooting shacks along streams and well
established paths. Farmers can take a number of additional deer if
they turn over the venison to a food kitchen or a religious group.
Hunters with iPhones can tap into their trail cameras and study
pictures of the bucks, planning which one to slay. I write all this
and I have to admire the craft of farmers who feed themselves off the
land by taking deer. I remember a friend who would slowly turn a
venison roast over charcoal for his parties. I was happy to be a
carnivore with two front incisors when we enjoyed the beauty of it
hot. I like tofu too.

My father allowed numerous men, friends of our farming neighbors, to
set up stands on his land. I met a few of these men, who put up their
stands in my father's elm trees, trees that grew fast and made poor
firewood. The men never gave me their names. They paid him with cases
of Coors, which he enjoyed to drink before the movie, Smokey and the
Bandit hit the silver screen, pumping up the reputation of those
silver bullets. As my father slowed down and my parents aged, the deer
herd began sleeping in their front yard, never eating enough grass to
make the weekly lawn cutting unnecessary. The herd has probably taken
over front and back yards, which my brother has allowed to grow this

Driving in deer country means collisions with white tails. I hit one
with my Mercury Monarch on the way to a substitute teaching assignment
in Owosso, Michigan. I reported it to the police, who gave me a tag. I
gave the tag to a neighbor, a Seminole Indian who turned it into
sausage in his basement. When I mentioned it to the sixth graders I
taught that day, one of the girls exclaimed, "You killed Bambi".

From the marsh, where I couldn't see the action, a bird screeched
plaintively until stopping once, and then stopping for a second, final

I have made use of the Wikipedia images of the following great sources:

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