How to Rope a Deer

I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, sweet feed it on corn for a few weeks, then butcher it and eat it. Yum! Corn-fed venison. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer.

Since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not have much fear of me (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck four feet away) it should not be difficult to rope one, toss a bag over its head to calm it down, then hog-tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder and hid behind it with my rope. The cattle, having seen a roping or two before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it.

After 20 minutes, my deer showed up, 3 of them. I picked a likely looking one, stepped out, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell she was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation.

I took a step toward it. It took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope, and received an education. The first thing I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, it is spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that, pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range, I could fight down with some dignity. A deer? No chance.

That thing ran and bucked, it twisted and pulled. There was no controlling that deer, and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer firmly attached to a rope was not such a good idea. The only upside is that they do not have much stamina.

A brief ten minutes later it was tired, and not as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head.

At that point, I had lost my appetite for corn-fed venison. I hated the thing, and would hazard a guess that the feeling was mutual. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope. But if I let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painful somewhere.

Despite the gash in my head, and several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s pell-mell flight by bracing my head against large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to suffer a slow death.

I managed to get it lined up between my truck and the feeder, a little trap I had set beforehand, like a squeeze chute. I backed it in there, and I started moving forward to get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do!

I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite, so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab hold of that rope, and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like a horse, it does not just bite and let go. A deer bites and shakes its head, like a pit bull. They bite HARD and won’t let go. It hurts!

The proper reaction when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and wrenching away. My method was ineffective. It felt like that deer bit and shook me for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds.

I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now) tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the bejesus out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose. That was when I learned my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up and strike at head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned long ago that when a horse strikes at you with its hooves and you can’t get away, the best thing to do is make a loud noise and move aggressively towards the animal. This will cause it to back down a bit, so you can make your escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer. Obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and turned to run.

The reason we have been taught NOT to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer are not so different from horses after all, other than being twice as strong and three times as evil. The second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

When a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately depart. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What it does instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you, while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck, and the deer went away. Now I know why people go deer hunting with a rifle and a scope. It’s so they can be somewhat equal to the prey.

I was pretty beat up. My scalp was split open, I had several large goose eggs, my wrist was bleeding pretty good and felt broken (it turned out to be just badly bruised) and my back was bleeding in a few places, though my insulated canvas jacket had protected me from most of the worst of it. I drove to the nearest place, which was the Co-Op. I got out of the truck, covered in blood and dust and looking like hell. The guy who ran the place saw me through the window and came running out yelling, “What happened?”

I have never seen any law in the state of Montana that would prohibit an individual from roping a deer. I suspect that this is an area that they have overlooked entirely. Knowing, as I do, the lengths to which law enforcement personnel will go to exercise their power, I was concerned that they may find a way to twist the existing laws to paint my actions as criminal. I swear… not wanting to admit that I had done something monumentally stupid played no part in my response. I told him “I was attacked by a deer”. I did not mention that at the time I had a rope on it. The evidence was all over my body. Deer prints on the back of my jacket where it had stomped all over me and a large deer print on my face where it had struck me there. I asked him to call somebody to come get me. I didn’t think I could make it home on my own. He did. Later that afternoon, a game warden showed up at my house and wanted to know about the deer attack. Surprisingly, deer attacks are a rare thing and wildlife and parks was interested in the event. I tried to describe the attack as completely and accurately as I could. I was filling the grain hopper and this deer came out of nowhere and just started kicking the hell out of me and BIT me. It was obviously rabid or insane or something.

EVERYBODY for miles around knows about the deer attack (the guy at the Co-Op has a big mouth). For several weeks people dragged their kids in the house when they saw deer around and the local ranchers carried rifles when they filled their feeders. I have told several people the story, but NEVER anybody around here. I have to see these people every day and as an outsider — a “city folk”. I have enough trouble fitting in without them snickering behind my back and whispering, “There is the dumbass that tried to rope the deer!”

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