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The C.A.S.H. Courier
ARTICLE from the Summer 2010 Issue
My Buddy: Bow Hunting: Untold Suffering - Now Told
BY LAURIE CRAWFORD STONE
Buddy, a magnificent 12-point buck, was a daily visitor to my woods for
over five years. He was “King of the Mountain”. He defended his territory
and played with the fawns. I always greeted him by saying, “I love you,
Life changed with an urban bow hunt in October, 2005. In case you don’t
know, bow-hunting rules are lax, compliance isn’t enforced, and most
complaints aren’t investigated. Who is hunting and where is a secret.
Hunters only want a “trophy” buck. I have personally experienced numerous
incidents. Deer have been killed on my fenced one-acre property,
posted with clear signs that say “No hunting/No trespassing.”
Last year’s hunt started September 13th. On November 3rd , a
neighbor reported a burgundy truck with two hunters on our private, “no
hunting” drive. She said one who was walking with a bow and arrow pointed at
an injured buck with a “nice rack,” who was limping, bleeding and
headed towards my property. I ran to the door and saw the truck pulling
away. I couldn’t see the license plate.
I called the hunt administrator and reported numerous violations: hunting
on foot, uncased bow, and hunting on “no hunting” property. He needed a
plate number. I asked him to check out anyone driving a burgundy pickup who
brought in a buck. I called the next day. No bucks had been brought in. Nor
had anyone reported a wounded buck. Hunt rules require wounded deer be
reported within 12 hours.
I didn’t see Buddy for three weeks. I assumed he’d been killed by a
hunter or car.
Buddy returned November 27th. I was overjoyed - until I saw his swollen
chest. Then realization hit…Buddy was the wounded buck my neighbor had seen.
I next saw Buddy on November 30th. He never left my yard. He sought
refuge under a jungle gym. He came out only to eat. I sent photos to others.
They thought he would recover.
I took out food every day and continued to greet him in the usual manner,
“I love you, Buddy.”
It snowed December 7th, the first of several blizzards. Buddy moved to a
more protected spot, a “safe place.” I contacted Direct Healing
Network, an international group, and asked for prayers for him. They started
sending prayers, light and energy for Buddy. I lit a candle for Buddy. He
continued to come out to eat. Despite the snow and bitter cold, Buddy was
perspiring. We hoped a fever had broken, and that he would recover.
I saw Buddy lying out in the open on December 11th. I thought he was
dead. I sobbed and shook uncontrollably. He raised his head. He was alive!
After a large buck nuzzled him, Buddy got up and ate. He was weaker and snow
I started looking outside overnight and often saw Buddy lying by the
December 16th Buddy was again lying out in the open. After he returned to
his safe place, I was surprised to find he’d left me an antler.
Buddy was lying in the open, antler-less, all day December 20th. He was
resting or weak. I had been asking for a sign. I knew if Buddy could not get
up I would have to call for help. Buddy’s head was up. He was near food and
water. At dusk, a large buck approached. Buddy flattened his ears. He tried
to get up but couldn’t. It was heart-wrenching to watch this once strong
buck unable to stand up. I watched him, crying and moaning. My husband told
me to stop watching. I couldn’t. When Buddy finally stood, his legs were
unnaturally spread. It took twelve minutes to stand and seventeen more
minutes to move fifteen feet to protection. I took out food and water at 10
PM. Buddy’s second antler was by the water bowl.
December 21st, I couldn’t find Buddy. Then I saw the back of his head. He
was lying against a fallen tree, facing away from me. Suddenly he raised his
head and started slamming against the tree. He couldn’t get up. He rested
and then thrashed. How many hours had this gone on? He must be exhausted and
terrified. Crows were hovering. Did they know Buddy couldn’t get up? I
called a friend. She asked, “What would Buddy want?” I knew he wouldn’t want
to be helpless like this and vulnerable to scavengers or predators – animal
or human. I called Sally Gray, another friend, weeping and afraid. We had
been communicating throughout Buddy’s ordeal. She had often offered to come.
This time I said yes. I needed her assessment. This was not easy for her as
she, too, loves deer. Buddy continued his futile attempts to get up. We both
knew it was time to call for help.
I called a local veterinarian who helps me with wildlife. He couldn’t
euthanize but suggested a veterinarian from another town who couldn’t come
until after dark. He couldn’t promise the injection would be instantaneous
or painless. Missing the vein was likely, the substance would sting. Then I
called a police officer who had previously offered to help. He suggested the
Iowa State Patrol could issue a tag and maybe euthanize. I tearfully
explained the situation to the Sergeant who answered. I didn’t know what to
do. I told him I wanted Buddy’s death to be swift and painless.
The Sergeant and veterinarian conferred. The Sergeant called me back to
explain pros and cons of euthanasia by injection vs. shotgun. He assured me
a gunshot would be quick and painless. He explained the trooper was a hunter
and euthanizes vehicle injured deer. He was a shotgun not a bow hunter. The
trooper could come right away. Suddenly I had a clear thought – the trooper
would know where to place a fatal shot.
I didn’t want Buddy to experience any fear as he died. I was afraid being
approached by a stranger (veterinarian) would feel threatening. The trooper
would not get that close. A gunshot was the better of two awful choices, in
terms of swiftness, timeliness and minimizing fear and pain for Buddy.
Sally returned before the trooper arrived. She brought her stethoscope to
check Buddy’s heart and respiration after he was shot – to ensure he was
“gone.” We were relieved Buddy was positioned so that he wouldn’t see
the trooper. I left. I couldn’t bear to hear the shot that would end Buddy’s
life. Sally called me within minutes. When I came home, Buddy’s candle had
extinguished. Sally said Buddy never even knew the trooper was there. He
Since the cremator could not come until the following day, Sally placed a
tarp over Buddy to protect him from scavengers. I photographed his wounds.
Buddy never had a chance. His chest was open from infection, he was
hopelessly trapped and he had a broken ankle. The cremator found the arrow
inside Buddy’s chest.
The decision to end Buddy’s suffering was the worst of my life. It’s
different than caring for my cats whom I can observe constantly and take to
a veterinarian. I have provided sanctuary for wildlife for years. I have
never been faced with having to make this decision for a wild animal.
Normally the injured deer I see either don’t return or they go on living
with their more common injury – a broken leg. I thought Buddy came to
recuperate. December 11th, when I saw him lying in the open, was the first I
realized he might not survive. I had my “sign” ten days later when Buddy
could not get up. I couldn’t leave him like this - trapped, afraid, in pain
and prey to predators. Until that day I felt euthanizing Buddy was betrayal
but now I knew letting him continue to suffer was the ultimate betrayal.
Buddy’s body was cold minutes after being euthanized. I hope this, and
the extinguished candle, are messages that Angels lifted up Buddy before the
Trooper even raised his gun.
I know now the inevitable outcome for a deer with chest swelling from a
bow hunter’s non-fatal shot. Hunters don’t use sterile arrows. The
deer will die from infection. I will not let another deer suffer. Buddy
taught me this. Still, I am glad that I didn’t have Buddy euthanized while
he was still able to stand. I didn’t want him to experience that terror.
I had two requests when Buddy was living here his final weeks. I wanted
his shed antlers and I wanted a sign if it was time to call for help. I
promised him I wouldn’t call for help unless he went down and couldn’t get
up. Buddy granted both wishes.
In the end, Buddy made sure the hunter did not get his antlers. Instead,
he gave them to me, knowing I would cherish them because of who wore them.
What horrible and utterly needless suffering and death Buddy experienced,
only because some hunter envied his beautiful antlers and felt justified
killing Buddy for a part of his body.
Text and all photos by Laurie Crawford Stone
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Laurie Crawford Stone is an author, activist and attorney. She
retired as officer of a Fortune 500 Company in 1996. Her stories are
published in Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort, Good Grief:
Finding Peace after Pet Loss, and Voices from The Garden: Stories of
Becoming Vegetarian. She was a columnist for The ICON and co-founder and
president of Animal Advocates of Iowa. Laurie lives with her husband, six
rescue cats, numerous deer and other wildlife in Cedar Rapids. She has a
deep connection with all animals
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