Are these deer joining the steroid generation?By Steve Estes
I have heard reports that there are emaciated deer somewhere on this island, and I’m sure that someone believes that is the case and uses that excuse to feed the little critters. But rest assured, there are no weakling deer in my neighborhood.
In fact, I’m beginning to believe that the deer in my neighborhood are training for the Key Deer power lifting team and plan to compete in the next summer Olympic Games.
As I drove home one recent night, of course it was trash night-eve, the deer around my parts know when trash day is and they come out in force to inspect the goodies before Waste Management makes its run, I turned the corner and there on the side of the road were three little deer, one buck and two doe, wrestling a trash can to the ground. The can obviously was full but those three made short work of knocking the sucker over and pounding off the lid.
Once they had the lid off, they proceeded to drag the trash bags out and rip them to shreds.
As I approached them I thought they would run form the sound of my car (it has mufflers, I’m just not real keen on their silence) but instead they took up defensive postures in front of the can.
I had no intention of stopping my low-slung car to try and shoo them away. They looked intense, focused and ready to be ticked off.
I just drove on.
Later that evening I heard a ruckus outside that is usually associated with marauding raccoons or Key Deer in the trash.
I put on some shoes and headed out the door. It came as no surprise that the deer had come to my house trying to find more treats.
Our cans are in a specially made enclosure designed and built by a buddy of mine. It is covered in lattice on all four sides with a lid that lifts for the ease of the collectors and has a small door on the front just large enough to slide the normal trash can in and out. It also has a rotating lever door handle. Originally, we just used pressure to keep the latch down, but soon the deer were knocking it down with a hoof and dragging trash out. So we put a screw under the lever and now the deer have to be able to lift the handle up to try and get the door open.
When I got to the street I was floored. Somehow this buck, maybe the same one, they do tend to look alike to me, had used his nose to lift the lever off the screw and push it aside. We had watermelon rinds in the trash. It was an invitation for the deer to get creative.
When I reached the street he was in the process of dragging the front can out with his teeth while his harem stood by watching, drooling in anticipation.
As I got closer, he gripped the plastic can harder with his teeth and began pulling the can out into the street. I yelled at him to stop. Yeah, a lot of good that did. I doubt they speak English.
He stared at me. He did stop long enough to get a new grip on the can and then began moving again. I felt violated.
I don’t throw things at the deer, but I will curse them loudly in five different languages. I don’t speak five different languages. I curse in five different languages.
Finally French seemed to strike a cord with this particular deer and he let go his grip on the trash can, retreating into the brush across the street—barely.
The does scattered away as I approached the can. I grabbed it and discovered that the can had much more than watermelon rind in it because it was heavy. I’m not sure what else was in it, but I would have thought it was way too heave for one deer to manage on his own, let alone drag it around like a young kid with a toy doll.
But he seemed to have no trouble with the weight of the can, nor had he had much issue with opening the door regardless of the lever.
So now I have been watching.
I see deer at the side of the road seemingly munching on grass. As I get nearer to them I see them turning away from the fallen branches in the underbrush. And I have to wonder if they have bench pressing those branches.
How else do the deer get muscled enough to easily handle trash cans I find somewhat difficult?
The deer are getting bigger. I don’t care what I’m told. These are not emaciated little cousins to their Northern brethren. These critters are bigger than they were 14 years ago when I moved to Big Pine from Key West.
And again my slightly (OK considerably) warped brain has to look at things from its slightly (OK considerably) skewed perspective.
Have these deer found a willing supplier of mammalian steroids?
Are those folk among us who feed the deer adding a few muscle-inducing vitamin supplements to the scraps?
How long will it be before we see “ripped” deer out in the middle of the road stopping cars and shaking down the occupants for juicy treats?
Should we fear walking through the refuge with human treats?
Are we going to be accosted by steroid-enhanced deer demanding that we give up our treats to them…or else?
The next thing we know, we’ll have deer gangs roaming the streets in our neighborhoods demanding that we open the gates to our fences and allow them access to the fresh-cut grass inside, or the freshly manicured foliage, or to feast on the succulent plants we have labored long and hard to grow inside the fence and up to now out of their reach.
When we take our lawn and leaf bags out to the street they’ll be there. Waiting for us. They’ll demand their share of the bounty before we can toss the bag into the can, which they’ll open anyway if we refuse.
When they’re thirsty they’ll send their hit squads to our front doors and demand that we teach them how to turn on the outside faucet so they can drink their fill.
Where does it all end?
I don’t know.
I’m afraid to imagine.