I’m going to tell you a story today about a tragedy that recently happened in our small little town. If you are an animal lover, then I’ll warn you now: you are probably going to cry. There’s love. There’s comedy. There’s tears. This story really has it all. And it’s all about a dear deer named Buckey.
I’ll start at the beginning as all of us know it. Buckey’s mom was hit by a car and killed. A local family who owns a farm and saw the mom killed on a nearby road took care of Buckey from then on out. They raised him as they would have any other pet. He got a tag in his ear to let everyone around know that it was Buckey and to ensure no one would hurt him. You see, in Maryland it is illegal to own a deer, but the tag on his ear that proudly had his name written on it made sure of his safety.
It took a few months, but people started to notice the baby deer that hung out on the steps of the butcher shop. (The family owned a butcher shop on the farm, too.) He would come up to customers and just beg to be rubbed. He loved people. It was probably the coolest thing in the world to pet a baby deer…and probably the cutest. He was so popular that he got his own Facebook page, which he used to ask for peanut butter cookies for Christmas and tell us how much the rain ruined his fun.
The local celebrity even made the newspaper…twice! Some family drama (or so it is rumored) ended in the beautiful, old farmhouse being completely gutted in a fire. Everyone around town helped the older lady who lived there, and it was the talk of the town for weeks. You know what else was? That Buckey made the front page of the paper because when the firemen were cleaning up the aftermath, Buckey decided he wanted to play. The firefighters took time out of the hectic job to play with Buckey and give him some much needed attention since he just lost his house, too. He loved having everyone around, helping out the family.
The second time was even better. There’s a big race that comes through our town each year, the JFK 50K. We all gripe about it the day of because there are runners all over our roads and getting in the way when we are trying to get somewhere. But, the next day, after the winner was crowned, a new winner was seen. In the paper again, Buckey made himself known because he decided to run the race, too. When participants were running past the farm, Buckey joined the crowd and started running right along with them.
He was a very good deer even as he grew. The day my parents dropped off a sweet little stray cat at the Humane Society (that we went back and adopted a few days later and is now Dixie), my mom was crying and really upset. On their way home, they saw Buckey. That animal instinct tuned into my mom’s mood, and he kept kissing her to make her happy. Mom still has the picture of the two of them because he was the only thing that could make her happy that day.
When my daddy’s Army buddy, Gary, came to visit Buckey was the one thing we really wanted to show him–especially because his daughter was going to flip and want a pet deer. Buckey loved Gary. He tried to climb into the Hummer to go home with him. He was pretty big by this point, but he was still as sweet as he was as a fawn.
Here’s where the story gets sad. That was one of the last times anyone got to play with Buckey. About a week after Gary met him, Buckey was wandering around a development back in the woods. Some guy, who apparently lives under a rock because he claims to not have known about the deer and whose name is not released for fear of retaliation, put a lasso around Buckey’s neck. The story is that he thought the deer was going to attack his children.
I have a few issues with this story. What makes you think he’ll attack your children if you are that close and he’s not attacking you? Did you not notice the brightly colored tag in his ear with his name on it? Did you not realize that if that deer are more scared of humans than we are of them? That he should have ran very quickly before letting you get close if he weren’t domesticated? Where the heck have you been living that you did not know about Buckey? Nevertheless, we all understand the man made a mistake. We forgive him for that.
What we do not forgive him for is how he handled the situation after he realized what he had done. Someone found out that Buckey had been lassoed and was really spooked. He would not go near anyone and, unfortunately, still had the rope around his neck. Then he disappeared completely. Search parties went out looking for him. The local news channel made an announcement. There were signs all along the road with notices and the number to call with information. After about two weeks of searching, Buckey was found dead. Fortunately, he did not starve to death. He went quickly. The rope got hung up on trees, and our baby basically broke his own neck. He was buried by his family, and there are plans to get him a tombstone.
The way I see it, if this guy were a decent human being, he would own up to his mistake. We all understand that he wasn’t aware of the deer and that he did it to protect his children. We understand that no one who knows him will release his name because they are scared that us rednecks are going to go kill him for killing our deer. What I don’t understand is why he wouldn’t have just given up where his house was so that we could search there. If we knew where it happened, we could have looked around the immediate area and could have found him. He wouldn’t be dead right now. Be a good person and own up to it and offer to help fix the mistake you made. Even if he wouldn’t do that, he could at least go to the family now and apologize. His name doesn’t have to be released but give the family some closure. I’m sure it would help him, too, because if he is human, he probably feels like crap for having the blood of everyone’s favorite deer on his hands.
We know it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to give Buckey both worlds–domestication and the ability to run free–but just own up to your mistake and give everyone some closure. I promise that no one will kill you. Buckey’s godfather is mighty upset, but he won’t hurt you.