Comprised of park land and private estates, over 1400 acres of contiguous open space surround my home. We sit almost at the center of spidering webs of woods and fields. These animals make their home within the hidden spots of those hollows and ridges, — White Tail Deer, Coyotes, Fox, Cooper and Red Tail Hawk, Screech and Great Horned Owl, rabbit and raccoon, possum, skunk, groundhog, weasel, even a River Otter in a nearby trout stream. The land also attracts hunters, a few of whom are outlaws.
Two of them tried the motorized method — a pick-up truck with one hunter riding in the back driving along back roads at night. The driver was jack-lighting the meadows. The hunter in the bed was seated on a cheap lawn chair, its back pressed against the cab. He shot from the sitting position. One dead buck was splayed out at his feet when the game officers arrested this pair.
Another is a trophy hunter who believes that his rules — I may kill what I want, where I want, when I want — are supreme. After he shot one buck, he decapitated it. The game officers followed the blood trail to his house, but they could find neither its head nor a rifle, and thus they did not bring charges against him. The same man has shot deer out of his kitchen window. He has discharged his rifle in the direction of the road, and in the direction of his neighbor’s driveway. He once shot a buck on private property, his son by his side. Two other hunters heard the shot and then watched him hovering over the body, prepared to gut it. They confronted him, reported him and were prepared to testify against him. He shook off the blame and said that his teenage boy had shot the buck, not him. The law has been after him for ten years.
These individuals are despised by the other hunters of the neighborhood, those who set up their tree stands early so that September rain can wash away all their scent, those who trade recipes for deer loin and sausage, those who wait up high in camouflage, bow in hand, so still that chickadees who land on their arms are fooled into believing that they are not-man, those who have learned the habits of their prey and who respect their sly nature, those who eat what they kill and call a day good even if they don’t kill. After all, they spent the hours outdoors in crisp air, alert, fully alive.
Violent crime is rare out here. Several years ago, a woman was attacked in her driveway by a man who just stopped his car, got out and came after her. She fought him off. Two years ago a local minister surprised a thief in his isolated house and was beaten as the intruder made his escape.
Rick has said to me that if there were ever a problem one phone call would bring him roaring into my driveway right quick, locked and loaded. And then a few weeks ago I spent an afternoon helping a new friend with technical information. He is a 6’3” ex-marine, wounded, Vietnam combat veteran, ex-bouncer, 5th degree black belt. After we had finished, he shook my hand and told me that if I needed a bodyguard, he could guarantee my safety. I thanked him and just for a flash the unevolved reptile part of my brain felt powerful, and capable of other kinds of deeds.