By Laurie Crawford Stone

Grief and loss are cumulative. Year after year more beloved deer are killed by urban bow hunters. I moved to a wooded city property because I love watching wildlife. Over the years I have taken thousands of photos and have come to recognize many individual deer by their faces and sometimes an injured leg. Over the years, a particular doe, Sadie, has repeatedly adopted orphaned fawns. Two of the orphans would often stand together on the retaining wall waiting for food.

One of those orphans, Sweetie, now an adult, came to the wall in July 2009 with a metal ring caught on her foot. She had twins. She was skeletal. She came daily and she gained weight. She approached me. I sensed she wanted me to remove the ring. It weighed her foot down. She would turn her foot under for relief as she stood eating. I plotted with a friend how we might remove the ring. If we could cover her face, she would be less afraid.

One September morning after a torrential rain, Sweetie came into my yard with the metal ring gone! I could still see the indentation where the ring had been. She was still limping and holding her foot under. I fell to my knees in prayer and gratitude for this miracle. My joy was short- lived.

Sweetie was gone all winter. I assumed a hunter had killed her. She returned in July 2010 with another set of twins, her hock still indented from the ring. I was ecstatic to see her. The 2010 hunt started September 11th. September 24th I found a dead doe with an arrow in her face. I was horrified. I had to look, though, to see if she was Sadie or Sweetie. She was not. She was a nursing doe who had obviously suffered before dying from this non-vital shot.

I attended a hunter orientation class. Hunters are told to shoot the deer in the vital organs. This hunter’s shot caused immeasurable suffering. He did not find the doe’s body, despite the fact she climbed onto a brush pile in the adjacent yard to die. The neighbor was enraged. In Cedar Rapids, the hunter does not need adjacent property owner permission. Since fatally wounded deer can travel 250-300 yards, most wounded deer will enter adjacent property. Non-consenting adjacent property owners have no rights or recourse unless a hunter enters their property with a weapon.

October 17th Sweetie showed up with an arrow wound in her side. I was devastated and immobilized with grief. I knew the inevitable outcome. Three days later I found another dead doe who had been shot through the face. This doe was found less than a block away from the first doe. The Hunt Manager came out to see her and asked if I could provide names of hunted properties. He said he’d try to identify the hunter. I have provided names and have had no response to emails. Wounded, un-retrieved deer are to be reported within 12 hours. None of these does were reported.

Sweetie returned October 24th at dusk with her fawns. She approached the wall and stood there until I came out. I think she was again asking for help. I will never know because she hasn’t been back. Her fawns have been coming alone. Perhaps Sweetie was telling me good-bye and showing her fawns where they can be safe when she is gone. Knowing that she will suffer from this wound as the infection from the embedded, unsterilized arrow slowly kills her is almost more than I can bear.

Bow hunting has ripple effects. Fawns are orphaned. Does cannot protect their young. Cumulative grief and loss, for survivors – deer and human – is devastating. Sadie is the only survivor from the original deer family. I pray daily that she will continue to live. I love her so.

Laurie Crawford Stone is an attorney who lives in IA. She is a wildlife watcher and protector, wildlife photographer and writer.


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
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