A Short Memory about Deer and My Dad

I was reading a story on IFLScience about how female elk can tell when hunters are out and about, and can even distinguish between bows & guns. The article goes into some detail about a study by scientists, who wondered if female elk were learning or if humans were doing a little artificial selection (i.e. killing off the dumb elk that are not skittish around people). It turns out to be a little of both, but more heavily towards the learning. It is a fascinating article and I definitely recommend checking it out. That is not what this post is about. Instead, the article reminded me of Dad.

When I was probably 13 or 14, I remember my dad positing a similar theory about deer. He said that it always seemed to him that deer, especially big bucks would figure out when it was hunting season. And not just that, but that they could almost understand that they were carrying guns. I think it was during the end of summer, we were at camp and we saw a pretty big buck, and it was pretty close to the road and did not seem to care too much that we were standing there. He always said that if you wanted to get a big buck like that during the season, you had to find a place that basically no human would go to that had some food, you know, like climb down a cliff or wade through a swamp. That is where the big ones would hide out during hunting season. He figured they accrued enough knowledge to stay alive and stay away from humans during that one part of the year. I would be interested to know if these researchers studied white-tailed deer and found similar results…

Actually, what this whole post tells me is that I miss my dad. This year has probably been the hardest for me since he has been gone. Around Memorial Day this year, I realized that I had been extra irritable with people and just really withdrawn into myself. I came to realize that I was just sad. I talk to Payton all the time about him. It makes me sad to think that he did not get the chance to meet her and vice versa (another fun fact, he was the person who explained what vice versa meant to me–probably after we watched the classic Fred Savage/Judge Reinhold film).

Every year at this time, I reread what I wrote on that first Father’s Day without him. And every time, it makes me cry. I still miss you Dad. I will do my best to pass on all of your wisdom you gave to me (well the stuff I can remember–I never did pay attention to any of the carpentry stuff…that would have come in handy now).

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