I woke up this morning, aching and recovering from a cold. I took out the garbage, fed the horses and discovered our dog, Zoya, attacking a deer.
Deer are everywhere down here. They live on our property - especially during hunting season; they seem to know we don't allow hunting on our 30 or so acres. We dodge them every day on the road. Five years and we haven't hit one yet. I'll stress yet so as not to jinx myself. People consider them nuisances, which is fine.
Got the dog inside, inspected the deer. She was hurt, obviously, and lying in the ditch where we'd found our other dog, Lilly, a few years back. The deer must have been very hurt as she let me not only get within a few feet of her, but let me touch her. Not the smartest of moves, but I'm an animal person.
Amy called, told me to keep the dogs inside because there was a deer lying in front of our mailbox. "Nope," I said. "She moved." Tufts of deer hair lined the trail where she'd dragged herself to what she thought would be safety. Amy had seen her this morning. Drove the the Waynesburg police station - found it locked. Tried the county office. It was wide open, but no one was there. She called local then state police, who promised they'd be out. No one came.
I went back out, sat with her a bit, dragged some more cover over near her so she'd be hidden from any random dipshit driving down the road. Living in a rural area, folks get overzealous with their rifles around here. Saturday, while filming, some drunken assholes saw some deer in our neighbor's yard and started shooting at them from their car. And at our horses and Ralph's sheep in the process. Those were the assholes I wanted to protect this deer from.
I left her some of the horse's apple chips and went back inside to get some work done. Bill gets up around 9:30. He hunts. He'd always been my go-to guy when wounded animals appeared in the past. I've never even killed mice rescued from cats. Except for one raccoon and one suicidal chipmonk, I've never even hit animals with my car - despite the fact that I live on a pitch-black road. And I've always managed to avoid deer. But I knew it was inevitable that this deer would need to be put down.
About nine am, I hear a rifle shot outside my house. Running out in boots and sweatpants, I discover a guy about my age with a scope rifle, barrel resting on the ledge of his truck door (steadying his shot or expecting the deer to return fire?). He fired again and took a third shot just as I came out. An older man--don't know his name but recognize him from some of the very few community functions we'd attended and who obviously knew us--came around the car to me. "How many fucking shots are you planning on taking?" I demanded. The deer was already wounded and lying fifty feet away in a ditch and this asshole needed THREE SHOTS?
"Sorry, didn't know you were home," our neighbor explained. Then explained further that his son-in-law had overshot the first bullet, but the second put her down and out of her misery. "What was the third shot for?" I wanted to ask, but didn't want to talk further. Part of me was glad that she was down and at peace.
They drove away as quickly as they could - not even bothering to check on her. I went over to do that.
And she was still breathing. And still struggling. And the bullet hadn't hit anything vital.
And she whimpered.
I ran into the house, called Bill and asked him to come up as quickly as he could. Since I'd woken him up, it was going to be a few minutes. As I called Amy, in a rage at our stupid fucking neighbors, I loaded my .45. The same .45 I've used as a prop for the last two movies. The one I've pointed at all my friends, unloaded. The .45 I've used for target practice, failing to hit any target under five yards. I went outside.
She was still whimpering. Bill was still a few minutes out. And I knew that if her wounds from the car were so bad that she'd been unable to get away that this new pain couldn't possibly be any worse.
But she was whimpering. And breathing heavy. And then she looked at me.
I don't know how to kill deer. I don't know where their hearts are.
I put the gun to her head, between her ear and her eye, looked away and pulled the trigger.
I know it was the adrenaline that made her try to get up. The blood stopped flowing almost immediately, so I knew she was dead. I know the movement was reflex, the body shutting down. But it felt like I sat there forever to wait for everything to stop. It was only a minute or so, but time really did slow down as I waited for this poor animal to die. And I hated myself - for pulling the trigger, for having to, for crying while I did.
I sat there with my hands on her, waiting with her. Stupid, sure. But I had to. I couldn't make myself walk away from her.
Bill pulled up a minute later, checked my shot, assured me that it had put her down at once. That it was a good shot. Never once cajoling me for crying or being upset - not that he would have, but others around here would.
He helped me move it across the road to the other side of my property, where nature could take over. Foxes and raccoons have to fatten up for the winter and it was better than letting her rot on a landfill somewhere.
Her rear leg was shattered - I could feel the bones grinding as I hefted her up, afraid the meat was going to tear away. There was at least one compound fracture. Whoever hit her ran over her leg and kept going. It had to have been agony for her for the last three or so hours.
Let me tell you, it would have been easier for me to open fire on our dumb-ass "helpful" neighbors than it was to pull the trigger on that poor deer. I've never killed anything before. Never wanted to. Right now I'm sick and I'm angry and I know that there are more than a few of you out there that think I'm a royal pussy right now, but I don't give a shit.
Today someone put me in the position where I had to put a gun to a living animal's head and pull the trigger. I had her blood cool on my hands. And that's going to be with me. If not for the rest of my life, then for the rest of the day. And this isn't how I wanted to spend my day.