To those of you new to these pages, you likely are not familiar with Claude the Whitetail Deer and his colleagues on Jekyll Island.
Several years ago, I received a call from a much-distressed Claude after members of the Jekyll Island Authority had decided there were too many of them on the island (whitetails, not members of the Jekyll Island Authority) and were planning on “culling” the herd — which is a politically correct way of saying they were going to bump off the deer.
Claude said Jekyll Island whitetails had had enough and were threatening to fight back. Not good. The last thing our state’s tourism industry needs is an all-out war between whitetail deer and members of the Jekyll Island Authority.
Claude asked me to intervene. The first thing I did was to inform members of the Jekyll Island Authority that most tourists who came to Jekyll Island were there to see the deer and not them. Second, I reminded them deer are nowhere near as big a nuisance as are lawyers and I had not heard anybody mention culling lawyers.
At the same time, I told the deer it would be impractical for them to climb trees and sit on a stand, waiting for members of the Jekyll Island Authority to come sauntering through the woods. Plus, there was the issue of snagging their antlers in tree limbs. The noise would spook members of the Jekyll Island Authority and they would run away.
Fortunately, my intervention seems to have worked. The Jekyll Island Authority decided to “study” the problem, which means to put it on the backburner until they think no one is paying attention and then try again. The deer saw right through that ruse and went back to eating all the rhododendrons they could find.
Things seemed well with Claude and friends until they heard recently that Gov. Nathan Deal has issued an executive order that would allow deer hunters to bait fields in certain parts of the state. That means hunters could put feed out and wait for an unsuspecting deer to show up for a free meal and then, well, shoot them dead.
Claude was livid. He said it is bad enough that somebody is always trying to kill them and now they can’t even eat in peace. He had read where the practice would likely mean large profits for landowners who run hunting plantations and as well as those who sell feed. Just like you humans, he snapped, trying to make a buck off a buck. Claude can flat turn a phrase when he gets mad.
Claude wanted to know why Gov. Deal was involved. He said he had never perceived the governor to be a big hunter, but assumed I knew him better than did the whitetails on Jekyll Island. I said I was at a loss to explain his thinking on this issue.
The only thing I had ever known the governor to kill was the work of his Education Reform Commission, of which I was a member. We evidently didn’t come up with the answers he wanted.
Oh, cry me a river, Claude said. When he killed the commission’s work, did the governor lay quarter-pounders on the floor and wait for commission members to start munching first? No, I said. He just took our report and left like he had a bus to catch. We had to buy our own quarter-pounders.
Claude said he and his colleagues are convinced that Republicans are behind the baited-field scheme. Anybody that supports taking guns to church isn’t going to get upset with ambushing a few deer.
They know Democrats are for gun control, but most deer don’t like Democrats because they are the party of big government. Claude says we already have more government than we need.
Claude and his friends are feeling beleaguered right now. Trying to be helpful, I told them I knew of one place where they would be safe from people trying to shoot them all the time. That was the Gold Dome. It seems that nobody can take a gun into the state Capitol. Claude asked if that meant they would have to hang around a bunch of politicians and lizard-loafered lobbyists all day. I said that was correct.
Claude said he and the whitetails appreciated my suggestion but they would rather take their chances with baited fields and over-eager members of the Jekyll Island Authority. There are some things even a beleaguered deer won’t do.
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/opinion. Contact him by email or at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; via his website; or his Facebook page.