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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

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, Buddy”.

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 covered.

I started looking outside overnight and often saw Buddy lying by the feeder.

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 didn’t move.

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

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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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