Friday, September 16, 2016

Wilbo Spots a Stag with a Rack of Eight Points, Waiting to Cross Whitneyville Road.

Spotted a stag with a rack of eight points, waiting to cross Whitneyville Road. The brights of my lorry startled him and he turned tail and vanished into the roadside woods. Glad he didn't challenge my grill with his horns, risking an instantaneous, gruesome death. He was not the first stag I had spotted this September. Friday morning, I drove by the ten foot high fence of a hunting ranch and saw a large number of racks popping up above the meadow grass, the grass high enough to conceal the stag but not his ornament. Soon, all of these stags will engage in a game of wits against hunters armed with rifles and arrows. The stags on the ranch have the odds stacked against them, their world marked off by tall fences.

Years ago, we all gathered in Mister Waltz's outbuilding that had been transformed into a firing range for 22 caliber. All the local children attended, and I believe it was totally free of charge. I liked it so much I would cut through the woods and hike around the lake to get there. Mom and Dad didn't need to give me a ride. Or did it happen at the Berksy farm, a few farmsteads to the north on Beard Road? No question, the most startling herd of deer lived on the lands of the Waltz's, and I knew to scan the fields at Beard and Vernon to count their number. The deer often followed a north south trail through the woods, passing by our farm houses. As documented in an article in Michigan History, that trail might be the same as the well documented Indian Trail that passed from Chesaning to Howell. Might. The deer always were exciting to watch, and one had to watch. One blink and one wound up with deer dents, of which I had several. For the most part, deer ran into the side of my vehicle, leaving a dent, a tuft of hair, but surviving. The one that didn't make it became a big deal. Sheriff came out to give me a deer tag. Rod, father of Rodney, gathered it off the side of Vernon Road near the Waltz's barn and skilfully saved the meat in his butcher shop where he maintained in his basement. The deer were so agile. A buck could slide and fall on road ice and return to its feet in seconds. Remembering seeing the bucks rutting, fighting with horns interlocked, one winter near the corner of Beard and Vernon, the northeast fields. Should have stopped to get it on film, but who had smartphones then?

USDA photo by Scott Bauer

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