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Club

June 5, 2020

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know that my wife and I are “nature people.” We have spent the last 40 years together, often in outdoor environments. We both were photographers for the states of California and Oregon. All of our lives we have spent an inordinate amount of time “in the bush,” filming and documenting the natural world around us.

When we moved to Oregon in 1986, we purchased a home on the very edge of town. The wildlife was abundant and it included many, many raccoons and an entire herd of Western Black Tailed Deer. For over six years we maintained the adjacent property to our house as a mini nature preserve for the benefit of all animals but especially our beloved deer.

From almost the very beginning, we noticed one particular deer, a female, who always showed up in our yard. We soon learned that this deer had been hit by a car, not once but twice. The resulting compound fracture of her right rear leg gave her a club-footed appearance, so we named her Club.

Club was no ordinary deer. She was smart and knew how to work the room (or garden). She became particularly fond of begging for wheat bread and apples in our yard.  Over the years, she had many sets of twins and she always escorted them to the safety of our yard for the various goodies we provided including rolled oats (COB). More than once, she entered our open garage and simply helped herself to open bags of COB. We became very good friends.

Then once snowy, winter evening Club appeared in the shadows but she did not approach us as usual. In the faint light, I noticed an aluminum arrow lodged in her left shoulder. WTF? Yes, some poacher had shot here (poorly) out of season and left the broken shaft for her to deal with. My wife and I went into panic mode, called our vet and even secured an air gun with rampum darts supplied by our vet. The trouble as that I could never get a clean shot. When I raised the barrel toward Club, she would bolt. Again, this was a very smart deer.

After tedious weeks went by, Club finally chewed the arrow and shaft out of her shoulder and she made a complete recovery. We were both relieved but we never found the culprit who shot her. I guess it was enough to know that he was a bad shot with a bow and arrow.

Club resumed visiting us every day both in the early morning and in the evening. She would escort her twins as well, We counted over 5 sets of twins over the years. They, like their mother, would come into our yard and tolerated hand feeding. The herd itself numbered 56. I actually counted as many on a winter’s evening. All were crowded into our yard looking for food. It seemed as though we had inherited quite the family of cloven friends.

Well, you probably already know how this story is going to end. One morning, Club didn’t come to see us. She didn’t come in the evening as well. After a full month we were convinced that our friend Club had met her end. Whether it was a graceful death of old age (she was at least 8 or 9) or a sorrowful affair at the point of another arrow, we never knew.

We sold our house and adjoining nature preserve in 2003 and moved to Italy. I started to write a book about Club some years ago but I simply didn’t have the heart to finish it: Club – East of Edgewood Mountain. Writing this post has given me a little nudge to return to my work and finish Club’s story. We’ll see if I last long enough to do it justice.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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6 Comments
  1. Sweet story. Hope the deer didn’t try to get food from the wrong person.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aww, I understand. We love our neighborherd.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Amazing story, Allen. Nature sure does have a way of working things out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wild animals have a particular brand of toughness. Club sounds like a good neighbor.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Congratulations ! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2020/06/friday-fossicking-12th-june-2020.html
    Thank you, Chris
    Great story… our lives would be so much less without animals…

    Liked by 1 person

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