Friday, February 15, 2019

The Pet Deer... and MDC

       Common sense isn’t used much anymore.  I was recently involved in something of a comedy that could have used a little common sense. It happened just after the gun deer season closed.  A farmer from Halfway Missouri by the name of Larry McCarthy called me to say that there was a big buck in his field wandering around and he was afraid he might be sick, perhaps with  the dreaded cwd he had heard so much about.   He said he had called the local conservation agents and they had advised him to just shoot the deer and let it lay.  McCarthy didn’t want to do that because he feared if it had that chronic wasting disease (actually known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) that it might affect local livestock.  He asked if I would come and look at it and I did.  Was I ever surprised!  What a set of antlers the buck had!  I walked up close to him and took several photos.  He wasn’t sick at all… he was just another tame deer and I have seen many of them. I knew immediately what was going on.  I have seen several bucks with cwd or tse, whichever you want to call it. And I have also seen a bunch of pen-raised tame deer!   That is exactly what that buck was. He showed no sign of any problem at all acknowledging me with curiosity, and then he went about doing what buck deer do, eating and walking about looking for a better mouthful, browsing from here to there.  His coat was clean and healthy and he was fat, very well fed.  He had been raised somewhere from a little fawn, and had no fear of humans. When I went back to where Mr. McCarthy waited by his pick-up, I told him the deer wasn’t sick, but tame, likely pen-raised somewhere close, by someone who had raised him from a fawn and wanted to make money from him by selling him to a hunting enclosure somewhere, where he would be killed by a hunter paying a considerable amount of money.  I asked if there were many Mennonites or Amish landowners nearby and he said, “Maybe that’s why so many of them have been buzzing around here this morning so interested   in this buck.”  Sure enough there was a Mennonite deer pen not far away.

       “The buck is healthy,” I told Mr. McCarthy, “and his head and antlers are worth a lot of money to some wealthy trophy hunter.  They are exceptional, not often seen in wild deer.”

      A conservation official arrived then and I took a photo of him just in case someone doesn’t want to believe this.  He looked like a swat team member after a shopping mall shooter!  He had ear phones, and a plastic face mask at first; and an automatic assault rifle, with a special uniform and military boots. He saw that buck and it is my opinion he couldn’t wait to shoot it, even after I told him it was tame, not sick.

       Mr. McCarthy didn’t want to believe me.  A buck deer that acted like a pet calf had him spooked.  He wanted it gone.  I suggested he go to town and get a landowners archery permit and shoot the deer with a bow or crossbow so that he would get to keep the antlers and perhaps sell them after having the head mounted.
     He started to think about that, but the MDC shooter didn’t want any part of that.  He was sure the deer was sick and I think he wanted to try his weapon on a 100-yard shot.  I told him that since anyone could walk up and pat it on the flank, he could allow Mr. McCarthy to shoot it with a bow or crossbow, tag it and possess it AND THEN HAVE IT CHECKED FOR CWD, like all other hunters were doing.

       The shooter wasn’t buying that… he said he was going to shoot the buck and take it with him.  That’s when Mr. McCarthy said ‘wait a minute’.  I told him how an area taxidermists were insisting to me that they had dealt with some local agents who confiscated big deer antlers, had him mount them at cost, paid for by the MDC,  and then sold or kept the deer head for themselves to sell for some big money.         I said “Mr. Mc Carthy, the Missouri Department of Conservation Enforcement Division They should not get that deer head. It is on your land, not theirs.”  To my surprise he agreed with me, saying that they had targeted him a number of times over dove hunting, even hand-cuffing him at one time.  And thinking about that, he told the MDC employee that he wanted the antlers.  The  MDC’s shooter said ‘no’.
       Mr. McCarthy said there would be no more done until he knew he would get the antlers.  So the swat team fellow goes to his vehicle and gets on the radio and talks awhile and comes back and says an MDC official somewhere said McCarthy could have the deer head after the buck was tested.  I left then, imagining the sound of automatic rifle fire behind me.  And though I heard the MDC shooter tell Mr. McCarthy he could keep the skull and antlers, I would bet he never ever sees them.  And by the way,  a young boy living up the road from me told me about the Mennonite deer pen operation nearby.  I have yet to be able to find and talk with that Mennonite deer pen operator about whether one of his deer or several, had broken out of their enclosure.  I know his name and would like to know if his operation is all legal. I know this, he lost a bundle of money when that MDC shooter refused to take the time to go ask if the buck had escaped from his place. And I know I could have wrapped a rope around that bucks neck and carried a bucket of food before him and he would have followed me anywhere.  What a beautiful animal he was.  But he was the victim of a complete and total lack of common sense, and the fact that big deer antlers, created by feeding pen deer a diet of bone and meat meal, are worth so much money to those sick people who are looking for ‘trophies’.

       Mr. McCarthy told me later that from 30 yards, the MDC rifleman had missed the buck the first couple of shots, then gut-shot him.  It took the deer awhile to die.  It isn’t a pleasant story, but it is the truth, and in most newspapers, this story cannot be printed.
Contact me at or write me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613  My office phone is 417 777 5227.

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