The grimmest story ever told on this 100 acres:
One Christmas Day I decided to walk in the snowy oak-and-hickory woods for an hour and think good things. The silence was the big winter kind that felt like deafness. Animal tracks led me along a known game trail. Barely out of sight of the road, a dead deer lay split open, red exploded all over the white snow. Without looking too closely, I saw it was the young buck from the family I'd watched strolling down the road every dusk for more than a year.
Clearly the coyotes had got it. I was rattled enough that I didn't go walking anymore that day.
Next day the landlord's handyman, who was new then, came by to work on Shelley's house. Then he knocked on my door and said, "Need anything?" - which he never did unless I called him. He's a busy man.
I told him about the dead deer in the woods. He said he'd taken a walk, seen it, and got a good look, and its antlers had been roped to a tree. He figured a trespasser wounded and left it, maybe thinking to return and finish it off. But the hunter never came back and the coyotes got the deer. Alive.
"Oh, how horrible!" I said.
Deer firearms season had been closed for a month. He said, "That was poaching. Why didn't you report it?"
It came out that, for God's sake -- he suspected that maybe I'd done it!
No hunting is ever allowed on this acreage. Just to make sure everybody knows, a month before this deer firearms season opened (Nov. 15-25), I sprayed purple paint -- signifying "no hunting" -- on tree trunks all around the property's edge. When I see a deer I deliberately shoo it toward the center of the woods, where supposedly nobody can hunt. And if they do they'd better be humane enough to kill.