We’ve got a gang problem in my neighborhood.
To the best I can tell there are seven of them. Like some of the old-time gangs, their feet make a tapping sound when they walk down the street. They all wear the same gang colors. They seem to stay together.
A couple of them have caused damage to cars. They seem to have a penchant for just standing in the road when a car comes along.
I have dubbed them "The Gainesville Seven." They are a part of a much bigger outfit with an estimated 1.5 million of them in Georgia. They are whitetail deer.
There is nothing more beautiful and graceful than deer as they glide through my yard. There is nothing that makes me madder than to see them eating the trees that I planted last year.
I’m the first to admit that this was their turf before we decided to build houses in the neighborhood. Now, folks are upset and want to do something about them.
They called a neighborhood meeting the other night at the Elk’s Lodge. My friend, Ken White, pointed out the irony of having a deer meeting at the Elk’s Lodge. I guess if we had an elk problem, we would have to go up to Hiawassee to the Deer Lodge, a popular restaurant (which has no deer on the menu).
They’re pretty brave. Sometimes they walk down the driveway like they own the place. It sounds like a tap-dance line in a Fred Astaire movie. I can walk outside without turning on the light and hear tippy-tap, tippy-tap along the drive.
The night they were having the meeting, I arrived home and saw all seven deer standing in my yard. We could have brought everybody up from the Elk’s Lodge and surrounded them.
The city of Gainesville has an ordinance that makes it illegal to discharge firearms in the city limits. That makes shooting deer a problem. You can shoot them with a bow and arrow, but I worry that I might wear my brown jacket in the yard one night and end up like General Custer.
Then, there is the whole deer season thing. The state government decides when you can shoot deer with a bow or a gun. If you’re not shooting them for sport, but to eliminate the nuisance they’re providing, why should this matter?
Now, if these were bears, we could tranquilize them and take them up and turn them loose in the mountains. But there is a rule or law somewhere that says you can’t do that with deer.
I don’t get this. If you could knock them out, load them up in a truck and take them to a nice wildlife refuge, what’s the difference?
So, meanwhile the city is trying to identify a few good hunters for next deer season, which is next fall. I once went to a training range where you had to decide in a split second whether you would shoot a bad guy or an innocent bystander.
I laid a bullet through the heart of a cardboard innocent bystander.
Count me out.
Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.