Friday, November 2, 2007


I can’t quite decide what’s bothering me more—being surprised by gunfire in my own “backyard” or feeling the presence of an intruder into what I now consider “my” land.

I was walking behind the pond, only for a minute, when the shots rang out. And although I anticipate the start of deer season when the weather carries a chill, it always startles me when I hear the shots. Memories of a story from my youth of a woman who was killed by hunters because she wore white mittens… mistaken for a white tail… remind me that I should be wearing blaze orange, even now, as I walk my trails.

From just ahead of me, a beautiful buck suddenly bounded from the cover of the woods, almost into my path. Across the pasture, seven more--does, ears sharply tuned to the direction from which the commotion came, heads held high searching the horizon for danger, clustered together on the hill, flushed from the meadow. It seemed they must’ve been aware of my confusion, too—for there we stood, sharing that moment of terror, realizing how vulnerable we were, to a danger unseen.
I dropped to the ground—partly to be less of a threat to their path of escape, partly to save myself. The woods were no longer a sanctuary. The birds had become still.

I darted back to the house, grabbed binoculars, car keys and my phone, --and set off to plead common sense to whoever it was, at that moment, who was demonstrating none.

Our woods back up to a church field, accessible from the road just around the corner. And as soon as I pulled into their lot, I saw my target. Probably not demonstrating the best sense either, I slipped the car into park and jumped out—slamming the door to announce my visit, and charged purposefully across the field.
“We was just shootin’ into that there sod pile." A man and his 7-year old grandson stood looking at me quizzically.

Maybe it was the binoculars I was madly waving at them, maybe it was the crazed hair just pulled loose for a nice evening walk. But it must’ve been evident to them that I had clicked into defensive mode.

I looked to the branch of the pine where my barred owl sits, surveying the field…
And the clearing, where my deer rest in the afternoon…
And the sky…

This was my land, our territory, and they had disrespected everything special about it.

The Ohio Revised Code 2923.16.2 states:
No person shall do any of the following:
Discharge a firearm on a lawn, park, pleasure ground, orchard
or other ground appurtenant to a schoolhouse, church, inhabited dwelling,
property of another or charitable institution.

Whoever violates this section is guilty of
discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Anonymous said...

Looks like grandpa needs to get/use a gun club membership if he wants to teach his grandchildren how to shoot...

Susan Gets Native said...

I grew up with deer hunters and I still flinch when I hear a muzzleloader.
Sic 'em, Nina!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

This again illustrates how differently people see things. I'm sure he saw our woods and thought, "what a perfect place to shoot my gun"--not even dreaming that someone would be sitting quietly back there.

LauraHinNJ said...

Sorry your tranquil place was tainted that way.

RuthieJ said...

Nina, if this happens again, please, please dial 911, and let the police handle it, OK? There are a lot of kooks in this world and some deer hunters are still stupid enough to drink while they're hunting. Please don't take the chance of confronting a person holding a loaded firearm--especially if they're somewhere they shouldn't be and think they won't get caught.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Yes, I plan to call for help with the situation, should it arise again.
I honestly didn't intend to confront the man when I drove over--just see if they were on our land. Once there, it happened faster than I imagined--and a call to 911, though I had my phone for that reason, would likely have gotten little response.
We have no police--just sheriff, who covers entire county--a huge area. And I doubt this type of conflict would've warranted a drive to our township.

Mary said...

Oh, Nina. Please be careful. I think I would have been miffed, too, and went after them. I think Ruthie has good advice.

Wow, your story is told so well.

Larry said...

I've was at the opposite end of the spectrum regarding hunters. They are very protective of their territory. They lease land from farmers. I have permission from one of the land owners to bird on their land. Some of the hunters in this area get really nasty when I ru nint to them. Even though I only go on Sundays which is a not hunting day in CT

Anonymous said...

I'm a photographer, and as many have stated, I feel my own sort of chill when hunting season begins in my area. Even when undertaken legally, on public or private lands, the guys (and women) behind the guns don't seem to understand the impact of the gunshot and how it affects everything in the ecosystem -- from the owls, to the deer, to us. The impact is chilling indeed.

I used to be far more tolerant of hunting. But as I've grown older and seen so much animal suffering (especially now that I'm involved in rescue, the injured animals not retrieved by hunters) in the areas where I live and photograph, I've become much more hardened to the sounds of autumn and the often careless shooters autumn brings with it.