The deer departed

Kevin’s word is always to be relied on. This is all well and good when, as a trader, he gives his word to his customer that he will give them the best possible fill. Also when, as a husband, he gives his word to have and to hold and, if not to obey, certainly to honor. It’s only when, as a hunter, he gives his word that he won’t shave his beard until he shoots a deer, that this whole integrity thing becomes something of a problem.

I wish I’d lost count, because then I wouldn’t have to report that this is our fourth season hunting deer with nothing, thus far, to show for it, and I believe a number of factors have conspired to create this perfect storm of deerlessness. One is overextension. We’ve spent so much time figuring out how to fish, and farm oysters, and raise livestock that we haven’t had enough time to give hunting the focus it requires. Another is location. There are about twenty thousand hunters on Cape Cod, all pursuing the same seven deer. A third is our utter lack of experience. While Kevin has hunted birds, and is good with guns, we’re both new at this.

The last two years, we’ve wandered farther afield to find places where there are more deer and better odds. Last year, that was a 35-acre piece of the Maine woods that our friends Ron and Susan own, but it was a last-minute decision that didn’t allow for much planning. This year, we got a chance to scout those woods, to get some idea of how the deer move around, and to capture, on film, a fine-looking six-point buck. When we looked closely, he appeared to have our name on him.

It was a relief to know that there was, at the very least, the theoretical possibility of Kevin’s shooting a deer, because the beard is beginning to get old. And, as beards get old, they get long. Kevin spent about a month in his Serpico phase before moving on to his Ulysses S. Grant period. Now he’s well on his way to Duck Dynasty.

This, however, does not make me happy happy happy. While Kevin’s facial hair is his own business, my distaste for kissing a caterpillar that’s walked through last night’s dinner is mine. And so this matter of deer hunting has taken on a new urgency.

Our six-point buck, though, is not cooperating; he seems to have taken off for a more congenial patch of woods. We’ve been in Maine since Monday, when the firearms season opened, and the buck has not been spotted – not by me, not by the camera, and not by Ulysses S. Grant. Today is our last Maine chance. Although Kevin did find fresh scratchings and steaming poop this morning, we are not sanguine.

There are other states, with other deer. We will certainly try Massachusetts, where we are already licensed. Kevin may go to Vermont, to hunt with his friend Dave. And, if all else fails, we have a most kind invitation from a friend who owns a farm in Loudoun County, Virginia, which is so overrun with deer that they make a deal with hunters: we’ll let you shoot a second buck if you shoot two does first.

But it’ll be a while before we get to Virginia, and that beard won’t be getting any smaller. Kevin is almost as tired of it as I am, and I harbor a suspicion that he feels the occasional twinge of regret for the moment of man-the-hunter machismo that spurred him to make this promise to himself. He’s started to talk about how nice it’ll be when his hair is finally long enough to pull back into a ponytail again, and he can buzz the beard down to stubble – but I think he has an agenda, talking that kind of talk.

You see, we have a deal, Kevin and I do. We each have three lifetime marital vetoes. We can each, three times over the course of our life together, put a foot down and say no. I have exercised one, and Kevin does not own a motorcycle. Kevin has exercised none. He will tell you that this is because he is an easy-going, live-and-let-live kind of guy. The truth, however, is that I never want to do anything that has to be vetoed.

Kevin, though, wants to do all kinds of things, and so he makes periodic efforts to goad me into using up my other two vetoes so he can then go climb Mount Aconcagua (which might sound like a harmless enough plan, until you learn how he comported himself on Kilimanjaro). For a while, he threatened to get his pilot’s license (another harmless-sounding plan, until you learn that his nickname is Crash). Then he thought he might take up professional lobstering (again with the Crash). And now he’s growing a beard that no reasonable woman should be expected to tolerate.

I won’t break, on the give-a-mouse-a-cookie principle. If I do, next he’ll be telling me he won’t shower until we catch a tuna, and before I know it he’s booking his flight to Argentina. I will deal with the caterpillar for as long as is required.

But I really hope he shoots that deer.

23 people are having a conversation about “The deer departed

  1. Stephen Andrew says:

    I’m hoping for you. If all else fails, plan a road trip through my neighborhood. You won’t even need to get out of your car. For every house there are probably ten deer. My 45 pound puppy might beat you to a deer-she gets closer every morning. Because these deer only have suburbanites in Lexus RXs to fear an actual predator has easy pickings. But it’s so much more romantic and sexy-sounding to get a deer in Maine than Ohio. So, again, I’m pulling for you.

  2. My goodness, Kevin is a dead ringer for a boss I had years ago. When I saw his picture, I said, “Doug?”

    If hunting were allowed in the suburbs I live in, I would invite you and Kevin to shoot as many of the little boogers as you can strap to your cars and drive home plus one. Unfortunately, no hunting is allowed, and the rassen-frassen-fricken-fracken deer know it. They will stand, calmly munching on the purloined carrot that they have just yanked out of the garden (with 6 foot fences, various bars of soap tied about, human pee splashed on posts, and clumps of dog hair strewn as if by a deranged Easter Bunny – none of which works, BTW), and stare at the irate gardener who is frantically shooing Bambi and shaking a rake while freezing her patootie off in a tank top and pair of shorts that is regulation sleepwear in certain circles. I deny it was me, and stop trying to find this incident on Google Maps! Alas, no fire arms or other reliable deer population control methods are allowed.

  3. For your sake and Kevin’s, I sure hope he got a deer today.

    If his beard is down to his knees by next fall, I may have to take him hunting. I might insist, however, that he arrive in a separate vehicle, lest I be publicly associated with a hairy, wild-eyed desperado.

    • Tovar, you can leave it to me to be the one associated with the hairy, wild-eyed desperado. Believe me, it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

  4. Two things: I prefer men hirsute; it’s only in the last couple of years I’ve been able to talk Steve into growing a beard for me. Now he quits shaving on the last day of summer and by my birthday, he is sporting handsome whiskers. You just need to learn to appreciate that Kevin can grow them and you can’t. Vive la difference!

    The other thing: so stop looking for deer already and hunt elk instead. It tastes a whole lot better than deer. If I were lucky enough to have a husband that wanted to hunt, we would be out looking for elk; we both prefer it. The trick, as I understand it though, is to hunt elk on private lands, not public. I hope you have friends with elk on their property. Elk are also a LOT bigger than deer, so you’d have more to show (or freeze) for all your effort.

    That said, if you really want a deer, I hope that you get one.

    • Paula, they’d say of me, “hirsute does not her suit.” I can’t wait for the damn beard to go.

      Elk are bigger, and extremely tasty. But it costs a whole lot of money to fly to where they are, buy the (very expensive) license, and then fly your elk meat home (if you get an elk). Still, if you add up all we’ve spent on deer paraphernalia and licenses, we might just be in that same range. Gulp.

  5. OK. A bit of nit-picking here.

    If the pledge is not to “shave” the beard — trim it to one hand in length. (A horseman will call a “hand” a measure of 4.000 inches.) That leaves enough length to be interesting, and alleviate challenges of ersatz shaving.

    Now, here in Oklahoma, Walmart sells tons of deer corn — bags of corn and attractants to draw deer to a place of the hunter’s selection. All sorts of treats for the deer are A-OK here in Oklahoma — surprising to me, from Iowa, where such baiting isn’t allowed.

    I wonder — would a snood over the beard diminish the fuzzy caterpillar issue?


    • Ah! The trimmer technicality. Alas, he covered that in “shave.” In fact, Kevin hasn’t actually used a razor in years — it’s always the trimmer.

      A snood would just give him reason to prolong this. Not going there!

    • I love that you used the two words “more distinguished” in a description of my husband, particularly when he is in his wild-man phase. You have a standing invitation to dinner!

  6. Thanks to all of you who invited me to shoot the deer that look into your living room windows. I know I shouldn’t grouse about the lack of deer when we have so many fish here on Cape Cod, and you can’t have everything, but I do still wish this were just a little easier.

    But I still think this year is our year. We did not bring a deer home from Maine, but we have at least 3 states to go.

  7. Tamar, you are overlooking the obvious advantage of Kevin’s beard: Red Sox impersonation! Make dinner reservations under the name “Mike Napoli” and enjoy the comped meals and drinks! All it will cost you is a few fraudulent autographs. Later after Kevin finally gets the deer, cut that bad boy off and auction it on eBay. See? Things are looking up already.

    • Potato, if I could pull that off with a straight face, I most definitely would. I Googled the guy, and it would definitely work. Of course, now that whole thing is over … but I like your attitude.

    • Oh, Cat, it’s a long story. Let’s just say he didn’t put safety first. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you.

  8. Tamar,

    Don’t let Kevin go down to Florida to hunt, just heard a news story where the Game and Fish Police set up decoy deer along the road to see who is stupid enough to try to shot it, it kind of illegal to hunt deer along the road side.

    Sad to say they they have caught a few “hunters” do exactly that, which has resulted in a $ 2,500 fine and jail time.

    Considering how long I have know you guys, I don’t think it would be a wise idea to let Kevin go mountain climbing unless the insurance is paid up.

    Does road kill count?

  9. Did he specify what weapon he had to shoot it with? If not then how about shooting a deer with a camera. If necessary, put a camera in his hand and take him to the zoo to shoot deer. Be done with it and have a trophy photo to mount on the wall. 🙂

  10. I have to admit that although I’m out in the fields and woods a lot all year round I never see deer when I have a gun in my hand. It is always when I’ve got fence tools, a shovel or something else as I’m working. They are elusive creatures.

    • Walter, they know. They know that a guy in jeans with a shovel is safe, and a guy in camo with a rifle is not. They learn it in their Hunter Evasion classes. They didn’t get to take over the earth by being stupid.

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