This evening, as I was working away at my computer, I looked up and saw two deer outside of my window, grazing on the grass in my backyard. I’ve seen these deer almost every day since moving here. Or rather, I have seen deer, almost every day since moving here. Whether or not they are the same deer, I am, as of yet, unable to determine. Perhaps, as my familiarity with this neighbourhood, and its more-than-human residents grows, I will one day begin to identify specific deer. That would be nice.
As I watched them, I began to think of the current deer hunting by-laws that have recently been passed. Using the fewest possible words, the city of Thunder Bay has recently allowed for the bow hunting of deer within city limits, a move designed to help limit their numbers, and the resulting injuries to both humans and deer that, sadly, happen all too often on our roads and highways. If you would like more words, I would direct you here: Deer Bow Hunt Season.
I thought of how I would be personally interested in hunting a deer, as a single animal could easily supply me with more than enough meat for a year, and, as the hunter, I could ensure that the creature was killed with as little pain as possible. I thought of how eating an animal that came from this place (a 1/8 mile diet?) could allow me to better connect with this place, and of how the process of stalking, hunting, cleaning, butchering, preserving, cooking and eating it would allow me to cultivate my sense of the importance of food.
I thought of all these things and then smiled.
I do not have my hunting license, nor do I own (or have ever really used) a bow. Furthermore, I would have no idea what to aim for on the deer to ensure a quick kill, and I do not understand even the most fundamental parts of cleaning and butchering the carcass. As such, the hunting of these two creatures in my backyard was entirely beyond my abilities.
And as I thought of these things, I realized that, do to my inability as a hunter, I am forced and thus allowed to appreciate these deer on a different level, one which allows me to appreciate their health and strength and beauty, not as potential prey, but as neighbours in this place.
One of these views of deer, as prey, or as neighbour is not inherently better than the other, and certainly, these two views are much closer related than I have presented here. Still, I am glad that, for now, I am enjoying this view, from my window.