Monday, April 11, 2016

Dead Deer

This Sunday when we visited my folks, they gave us the news that they (actually, the dog) had found a dead deer against one of the corners of the house.   I guess it was a mule deer, or whatever kind of deer are in the forest around Corvallis (and Eugene).  They'd called about three institutions trying to find someone to take it, but it was Sunday and no one was open or willing.

The deer was on its side.  It was easy to see how my dad thought it might be sleeping at first.  Then one noticed the legs, which were sticking straight out instead of folded underneath the deer.  The black cloven hooves looked sharp and sculptural. Next came the dead-meat smell: kind of sour, kind of spicy, kind of like hamburger gone bad or someone's pungent reheated microwave fish.  The smell wasn't too strong because it was a cool morning and the deer was on the northwestern side of the house.   The next thing I noticed was the dried tracks of poop (or something worse) dripping out of the deer's anus.  When I walked over to the front of the deer, its dead eye flashed at me like lights in a fog, which was creepy and cool all at once, and I found myself moving my head to make the eye light up with luminous fog again.  It was like looking into a dirty river and seeing the sunlight reflected back on suspended particles. The eye had a greenish, otherworldly tinge to it, and I understood how people might think of ghost deer.

Many years ago, I had a dream about small birds hopping from out of a bloody deer carcass in the snow.  Luckily this was less bloody, and I wondered if I would have deer dreams later (editor's note:  not so far).

We had to move the carcass before it bloated and started to attract scavengers.  Mark apparently stuck the deer with a stick and it didn't explode or have babies pop out.   We weren't sure if the deer was the one we'd seen limping a few weeks earlier, or if the deer had been struck by a car, or if it was a cougar kill, or if there wasn't enough of some nutrient in its graze, or if some strange deer disease had struck it down.   We donned rubber gloves, changed into work clothes, and got an Alaskan Elk Bag and got to work bagging the corpse. 

But not before pictures.

Dad posed for a moment near the deer's rear while I sang, "Oh mighty hunter of great fighting stock..."  Then he picked up the deer by the hooves and I began to work the head into the bag.  Rigor-mortis had not set in, and the deer's head flopped on a rubbery neck.  Redish goop began to come out of its nose and mouth.  I got the head into the bag and out of sight as quickly as possible.  A bit of fur on the neck brushed my arm in the gap between the top of my glove and the bottom of my sleeve.  Mark helped prep the bag and yanked it over the shoulders.  The sour, rotting hamburger microwave fish dish smell increased.  More reddish gore ran out of the deer's head and soaked the white bag with red splotches.

Between the three of us grunting and shoving and heaving, we managed to get the deer into the bag.  At this point we noticed its gonads and realized it wasn't a doe.  More heaving and shoving a lifting and we mange to get the deer over the shrubbery and into the driveway.   Ichor had seeped through the bag and got onto Mark's pants.We'd planned to put it onto a cart, but there was ick dripping out of the bottom, so we hefted the carcass along the driveway.  Mark made dead body jokes, and as I scootched backwards, I felt like I was in the moving the ambassador's body scene from the first season of "Downton Abbey."  

We moved the bag to the side of the road below the driveway.  Later flies swarmed the bag trying to find a way in, and the local vultures appeared to be mightily interested in flying over the house.  

The deer was a banned topic for lunch.
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