But they're sooo cute - why I always order venison

Should you pass through the Little Village With No Mall, you might admire some of the gracious older houses or gasp at some of the newer extravaganzas. Or you might coo over the adorable wooden church, which apparently exists only to serve as the venue for adorable summer weddings. Or you might be impressed by the relatively large size of the public library compared to the village population (I still am). But if you garden, even the slightest bit, you would look at the bushes and plants with which people surround their homes, and you would think either "What a complete absence of originality here," or "Ah, there must be a serious deer problem here!" Both would be true. Deer and originality in the garden are mutually inconsistent.

Our deer produce fawn-colored fawns in the spring, pose artistically on lawns in the summer, flash white tails as they dash across roads at twilight in the fall causing drivers to make life-threatening (and in a number of cases of which I have personal knowledge, life-ending) road swerves, leave cute little footprints in the snow in the winter, and are very, very hungry all year round. They prefer to eat costly flowering plants, will nibble the leaves and branches of low-hanging trees so that a Weeping Arborus Quisquis Carus ceases to look dangly and weepy and becomes a tall green mushroom-shaped topiary within days of planting outside the dining room window. Deer eat grasses and ferns. Deer eat the pretty plant the children across the road brought to say Thank You for Not Yelling At Us When Our Brother Threw Somebody's Cat in Your Pool. Deer come up on the front steps to nibble at the parti-colored ivy in large pots that were being trained to climb up wire topiary forms bought on close-out last fall, showing us why noone else bought them so they had to be marked down. Deer adore "specimen plants," the costlier the better.

So our local foliage tends to be things deer tend not to eat if someone else has planted something more appetizing. What the hell, they're green. For tall and persistent, you have rhododendrons. For color, for some reason the deer leave hydrangeas alone. And there's plenty of boxwood around. There's also something called Burning Bush, which is an undistinguished green shaggy thing most of the summer and is meant to turn a vivid deep red in the fall. Some do, some don't.

Recently there was a survey meant to determine whether and how the Village should deal with the deer situation. The Village divided into two camps: the "exterminate at all costs and buy guns for every man and woman over age 18" camp, and the "deer are our charming friends and we should be happy to provide expensive fodder and wear night-vision goggles when driving" camp. Perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much. The anti-deer votes predominated, and the Village consulted a Deer Specialist. It's difficult to relocate deer; they travel for food and return to places they've liked in the past. So do I, of course, but I leave money behind, which local residents seem to feel is a fair exchange. I don't just pillage and run.

The Deer Specialist suggested alternatives that included:
       Deer Birth Control (no, no, they would be shot with little medicated darts!),
       subsidized fencing (would cost money)
       stepped-up hunting during an extended hunting season (would require use of guns)
       humane relocation (impractical - as stated, they come back)
(and not a deer in sight)

Ah, but then Local Politics took a role. The deer lovers, voters all, got to the Mayor, and the possibility of any official program was dropped. However, the Mayor was also politically adept, and he had learned that Bow Hunting (not with guns!) is legal in the Village, with a few limitations. He therefore posted a list of Licensed Bow Hunters in the Town Hall, so that anyone who felt overly pestered by deer could set one of these individuals on the deer.

My approach is Slow But Steady: whenever possible, when I am in a nice restaurants, I order venison. Rare. You haven't read much about restaurants here lately because (1) we kind of overdid it on our last trip and are still recovering, and (2) if Congress wants us to stimulate the economy by patronizing restaurants, it sure has picked a funny way to show it. But all things are circular; the deer will return, and I will again be sitting at a nice table with something delectable before me.


  1. Oh I love Maine, I lived in Portland and further out near Norway/Poland for a while. That will only make sense to you.

  2. I love animals and wildlife but that's how I feel about the rabbits everywhere in my neighborhood! They race across your driveway, feed on your lawn and eat up the golf course. Don't think those are the rabbits served in restaurants though ...

  3. Tabitha, yes, love coastal Maine, we used to drive up every spring for the opening of the lobster season (our version of the Glorious Twelfth)

    Tiffany Rose, I've fed my last rabbit and am sticking to daffodils.

  4. Yes here in coastal Maine we have and bowhunter programs for deer to protect the rest of the environment. the meat is always put to good use. I think it is very correct to order the venison, and delicious as well.

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  6. Hi, Lane, I'm working for safer roads and more varied flora, one boneless loin grand veneur at a time! Rabbit depredations and hostilities will be discussed in the spring when my tulips and crocuses do NOT bloom.


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