Hole in the Clouds
Oct 16, 2009
The boy in Winslow Homer's "The Hound and the Hunter" never saw the movie "Bambi," of course, so his relationship to forest and fauna was nothing like that of my generation.. This boy didn't grow up with that single gunshot trumping all other cinematic memories: What just happened? The hunters killed Bambi's mother? His mother?
Homer's boy, unburdened with Disney-fication, just went hunting. That's what you could do this time of year if you were a fortunate American boy. His dog hounded the deer into the water, forcing it to swim rather than run. Deer swim slowly enough that the boy was able to pick it off with the gun that is now in the bottom of the boat. He'll soon have the deer tied up, ready to drag home. Problem is: the dog is now swimming straight for the boat, and if it jumps in, they'll capsize. What should the boy do? What happens next?
Homer was particularly proud of this painting; he felt he got all the details just right--for example, the transition between the boy's pale forearms and suntanned wrists. But even back then in the late 19th century, deer hunting was becoming culturally problematic among a portion of the population; when this painting was first displayed, there were complaints that the deer was still alive, that the boy was trying to drown it. This interpretation is obviously wrong--a desperate deer, thrashing in the water, would swamp the boat, if the boy could hold it at all. No, the deer is not struggling, and the boy's attention has shifted to the dog.
To be continued, sort of.
Oct 17, 2009
There's an urban legend about a deer more spectacular than any other, a deer that's pure white, maybe even albino. It is glimpsed from time to time, usually at dusk or dawn or even after dark. It's shy and quick, won't stick around for the camera.
(Image credit: Janet Goldwater)
For a hunter to shoot such a deer, a white ghost of a deer, would make the whole forest cry. It would bring a whole lifetime of bad luck to the hunter who felled it. Unless it was actually a good luck charm. Or a trophy like no other--a trophy deer above all others.
One problem with the white deer, urban-legend-wise, is that there's widespread disagreement concerning what it might signify, if it signifies anything. The story is messy, if there is a story to it. But that's okay, urban-legend-wise, because the white deer is real--an estimated 1 deer out of 30,000 is albino, completely white with pink eyes.
Their coloration leaves them especially vulnerable to human hunters and other predators. Do they know that? Is that why they are so shy? Perhaps not, but their light-sensitive eyes may make them avoid daylight even more than other deer.
Nonetheless, Janet Goldwater sort of got a photo of an albino deer that had been eating apples from her tree in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. "This photo was taken (in a rush obviously!) through the window of my house," she writes. "My opportunity to take a photo came at dusk, hence the slow shutter speed."
Here, the albino deer looks almost like a unicorn, which seems appropriate enough. If you want clearer pictures, you can find them on the tubes. But this shot seems to pretty much sum up the whole white-deer thing: whatever is out there is hard to see, impossible to pin down, fleeing fast , but definitely, positively, really something.
Oct 28, 2010
There's an email that's been going around for at least six months or so about this deer that came to somebody's backyard every morning, in Harrisburg, PA, to play with the resident cat. Here are two of the five pictures from the post.
What do you think? Real, or urban legend? Well, after doing my due diligence, I'm inclined to say maybe. Hand-raised deer often behave this way, apparently, and similar goings-on have been described in first-hand reports from several places around the country. For example, from California:
"Every morning our cat used to walk down our lane and disappear into the woods. One morning, I was sick and got up much later than usual to let her out. As I opened the door, I looked down the lane and saw three deer standing there staring at me. To my astonishment, my cat happily bounced down to them, touched noses, and the four of them trotted off into the woods together.
"Perhaps there's a cat/deer accord we are not privvy to?"
(h/t: Tina Lackeos)
Feb 9, 2015
Doris's sign might be a little misleading in one way, since there's really not much of a parking problem in the community of Great Cacapon, West Virginia. It's a wide place in the road: a post office, a few dozen houses and trailers, and Doris's, which advertises Bud Light by the 30-pack ($23.99).
The deer in the noose, however, looks just like the wall mounts on sale at a furniture store back in Berkeley Springs, the county seat. And if you don't want a deer for your wall, you might consider a longhorn steer instead.
(Image credit: Fuji T)
Apr 3, 2016
This fence is part of the security for Naval Base Kitsap–Bangor, home to eight submarines armed with Trident nuclear missiles.
The deer are apparently not a security issue, but drones, on the other hand, are becoming a big problem. Multiple drone flights over the base been reported, all taking place at night, and nobody knows who is flying the drones or why.
Naval investigators have yet to solve the mystery. Nearby residents have been interviewed, but their involvement is doubtful. "I really can't imagine any of the neighbors or neighbors' kids thinking it's OK to run drones over Bangor," said one area resident who'd been interrogated about the incidents. "Everyone here is very aware that this is one of the most lethal places on earth."
Signs around the base perimeter warn "Keep Out. Use of force authorized."
(Image credit: Ken Lambert for Seattle Times)