Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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Those dear little deer...

Robert Downes - November 10th, 2008
Those dear little deer...
Many years ago, the first snowfall in November used to be a cause for celebration in our family because it meant good tracking through the woods during the deer hunt. My dad and uncles were out before dawn on the first day of hunting season, and when they bagged a buck the excited talk of their deeds lit up the Thanksgiving table as they relived the fatal moment in the woods again and again. Those memories of the hunt were more precious than gold, and they would be taken out and polished for many years to come. Even when he was in his 80s, I recall my father talking about his first deer, taken at the age of 17 on the family farm outside Rockford.
I thought of those deer last week when the temperatures were in the 70s. By now, perhaps, they’re making tracks in the snow, seeking to elude the 700,000 or so deer hunters who swarm the forests and fields. But last week, they could have used some sunglasses.
Anyway, here’s some information on the wily whitetail, dug up from the web archives of the DNR, along with a wish for all the hunters to stay safe out there in the crossfire.
A little background: deer range from 125-225 lbs. in size and live an average of 10 years or so. They tend to live in family groups of up to 25 members, and the leader tends to be female. They can hit speeds up to 35 mph in short bursts. They also find it useful to have four stomachs, which allow them to break down lots of stuff we’d find inedible, like pine needles, leaves, grass, acorns, twigs and mushrooms.
What’s the most dangerous animal in the woods? The black bear, the honey bee, the human being? Well, it’s the deer of course: tens of thousands of them leap in front of our cars each year and 65,000 find their mark -- some flying through front windshields with deadly results. Then too, it’s claimed that sex-crazed bucks have been known to charge hikers during the mating season because their hormones are so jacked-up. This sounds a little dubious, but watch your back if you see a buck with a romantic glint in its eye.
And indeed, those deer are prodigious lovers. They start breeding when they’re only a year-and-a-half old and are Casanovas on par with rabbits. Some fawns breed when they are only seven or eight months old.
A cartoonist named Warbach at www.midnr.com notes that: “In Sept. 1962, six bucks and nine does were released on South Fox Island in Lake Michigan. In 1970 (just eight years later), 382 deer were shot by hunters.“
But, despite that birthrate, deer weren’t always so plentiful in Northern Michigan. Before the white settlers arrived, whitetails were found mostly in the southern part of the state where the habitat included plenty of bogs and clearings in the forest. The forests of Northern Michigan were too dense to sustain much of a deer herd, so our territory was more the home of the elk and the moose.
But as the lumberjacks of the 1800s took down the trees of the north, our deer herd increased. By the 1880s, we had an estimated one million deer in the region. Meanwhile, deer all but disappeared in southern Michigan due to unregulated hunting and the destruction of habitat.
From that point on, Michigan’s deer herd was on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Market hunters “slaughtered hundreds of thousands,” according to the DNR, and by 1914, there were only an estimated 45,000 deer in the state.
In order to save the herd and hunting in general, regulations were passed stating that only antlered bucks could be taken by hunters. This and other measures worked so well that by 1937, Michigan had a “deer problem” of 1.25 million of the critters -- a number that grew to 1.5 million by the late ‘40s.
Today, the DNR aims to have a fall herd of 1.3 million deer, and it‘s remained pretty steady for years.
So, what’s next for Bambi and Buck? No doubt our changing climate will play a role in their future -- perhaps with less starvation in the winter. Perhaps the Internet will affect them too: a lot of kids are more interested in playing the latest version of Grand Theft Auto than in tramping around in the cold in blaze orange. The NRA would be wise to spend more time worrying about the impact of video games on gun ownership than it does on the Democratic Party.
Whatever, here’s to the deer and to the hunters who chase the white tail. Their game of hide-and-seek plays out this week, just as it has since the dawn of time.
 
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