Thursday, July 26, 2012
Upon request from my friend JD I am telling the story of Hat Rack. When we moved here 15 years ago I noticed that the deer seemed to stay in place when I talked to them. So when I was outside and there were deer around I would talk to them personally about a variety of things, but foremost on how to evade hunters during hunting season. Over time they would stand closer and closer to me and were less afraid. I believe they instinctively knew that they had nothing to fear and were safe and comfortable around the house.
One of those deer was a young buck we ultimately named Hat Rack. I know it is wrong to name wild animals but his story is such he needed a name. After about 3 years with him coming coming back year after year he would stand 10-15 feet away and listen with rapt attention while I talked to him. I never thought deer understood what was said but I learned they either do or coincidence follows them around. I thought maybe it was the tone of voice but actual comprehension - not likely. It was in early winter and one of those years where snow had not accumulated as much as usual. The rut was well over and it was seasonable weather for everyone and about that time when deer would normally shed their antlers.
I was outside and Hat Rack was hanging around and I was probably telling him how handsome he was and after a while I told him that I really admired his antlers and if he would shed them where I could find them I would make a hat rack out of them in his honor. That way I would always remember him when I used the hat rack. Turns out that is usually twice a day as I use the hat rack for my ball caps. Within two minutes he was standing not 10 feet from me and with his head lowered he started to shake his head from side to side. One of his antlers fell off and I walked up and picked it up. Hat Rack then walked perhaps 20 feet and shook his head again and his other antler fell off. I collected both and thanked him for providing them. I then made the hat rack in the photo above.
Now some will call that coincidence but I don't attribute it to happen chance. When he shook loose his antler the first time he looked straight at me and took a couple steps back. He turned and looked at me when he shed his second antler as well as if to say, here you go, now don't forget me now.
I have another story about one of our deer whom we called Uno since he only had one spike for an antler for several years. That story is more incredible and will have to wait for another time. This story is all about Hat Rack and as long as I live he will be remembered with affection. When a wild animal gives you their trust it is a very special bond and while he is gone now he will never be forgotten.