Deer prudence

This past Sunday, the venerable New York Times published a piece called “Winter in Tennessee” on the back page of the Magazine. It was by a writer named Kevin Wilson who, with his wife, recently moved into their first house, a pond-side cabin in the woods. Since I have some experience moving to a pond-side cabin in the woods with a guy named Kevin, I thought I might find a kindred spirit.  I didn’t.

His essay was about the morning he woke up to find a dead deer in the pond. He told his wife about it, and she asked, “What do you want to do?” As far as I am concerned, there is only one possible answer when your spouse asks you what you want to do with the dead deer in the pond: “I want to eat it.”

Now, it may be that the deer can’t be eaten. If it just floated up from the depths, bloated and rotted, eating it is out of the question. But this deer had clearly been shot (they found the bullet hole), and apparently ran into the pond during the night, when temperatures were cold enough to freeze the surface of the water. Under those circumstances, that animal is edible.

Even if the circumstances are iffy, though, there’s no excuse not to ask the question. If you don’t know what to do with a carcass, call a butcher. If you’re a vegetarian, call a carnivore. If you’re just squeamish, call me. I’m squeamish too, but not so squeamish that I would let a majestic animal die for nothing.


(Note:  This is a slightly edited version of the original post.  I removed an unfortunate construction that an astute reader brought to my attention in the comments.)

7 people are having a conversation about “Deer prudence

  1. Your quotidian struggles to extract food from your surroundings have certainly impressed me, and your boy Kevin Wilson, on whom I will take pity by not quoting him, sounds like a major weenie. That said, you might want to avoid locutions like “the anti-Tamar,” however one punctuates it, which sound a bit self-regarding. (For lo, it is not man, but I, Tamar, who am the measure of all things…)

  2. Aaron — You mean I’m not the measure of all things?

    Alas, I’m not. And I wasn’t crazy about the anti-Tamar, either. I’m finding that one of the hazards of volume production is that I sometimes settle for suboptimal constructions. If I had thought of “major weenie,” I would have used it instead.

    But I’ll be more careful, now that I know you’re watching.

  3. While I would be the last person to advise you on your locutions, I might suggest taking a core temperature on the beast and trying to figure the likely time of death (sort of).
    You may not be able to find out exactly when it died, however if you cut it open and it is somewhat warmer inside it has not been too long.

  4. Tamar, in your defense, I didn’t take “anti-Tamar” as your feeling you are the measure of all things and self regarding. Even if you were, it’s your Blog, so maybe you are the measure of all things here.
    On another note, I will have to say that eating a floating deer would not have been something that I would have even considered. Even if it looked fresh, it could have been in the drink since the hunting season last fall. (At least with road kill, you know that it was very recently alive.) I’m sure I would have either dug a hole and put Bambi in for a dirt nap or would have let the fish and/or other larger scavengers have at it.

  5. I can’t say for sure, but I had the impression from the piece that the pond wasn’t deep enough for a deer to sink below the surface, in which case it must have run in, under its own power, that very night.

  6. beachnitpicker says:

    I saw the piece in the Times and I, too, had the impression the pond was small and shallow. Also, even a cursory examination would certainly tell you whether the deer died the night before rather than several months ago. The internal temperature test sounds like a good idea to me.

  7. If that poor deer had died here, it would have been eaten. I’ve had co-workers eat deer that they’ve hit with their cars (the thought being that the meat was in some way to pay back for damages to the auto). Once, when I was in HS, my mother’s boyfriend ran over a huge hog. It was clearly farm raised but no one would take ownership, since that would mean they’d be liable for any damages as well, so we called up a friend who came down with his pickup and his sons and enjoyed many a porky meal. Since I’ve moved a little bit away from the country (you can actually spot my driveway from the road now), my new co-workers and friends are more squeamish about such things. Now we say a little prayer and contemplate a good burial site (if it’s dead) or debate taking the animal (if it’s wounded) to the local veternarian. Such is the disparity between country and city living.

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