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DEER TRAILS: Humor helps hunters

November 19, 2018

Gun deer season can be a tense time for some. Hunters are often excited, nervous and even anxious about getting into a forest on time, before someone gets to a location they planned to hunt.

Cartoonists’ humor has its place during deer season, too, often helping take that edge off and relaxing, reducing carelessness and helping reduce accidents.

For many years, one of Wisconsin’s daily newspapers ran a cartoon just prior to the nine-day season. It was nearly a full page, covering multiple aspects of the season and the ties with politics and volunteer agencies, including Conservation Congress. Prominent Wisconsinites were sometimes featured. And deer camps, too, all in the same, huge cartoon.

As best I remember, there were few examples of carelessness, illegal hunting and unsafe situations in these cartoons and captions.

Deer hunters could relate to this “Family Circus” type cartoon and laugh at their hunting activity, culture, rules, regulations and even the blaze orange attire worn by hunters in the woods.

Deer hunting cartoons are now infrequent. Even smaller cartoons rarely delve into hunting, especially deer hunting. One does come to mind: A baby buggy with an infant pointing a rifle (we know what that was depicting).

During the past year when examining deer and deer hunting images on my camera and computer, I can see a cartoon needing a caption in some images with a person or a deer thinking or talking.

I saw a collared deer on an image standing beside a powerline pole, looking up. I’m not sure what drew her attention. Could it have been stray voltage (there’s a cartoon there, too)? Some type of interference with her GPS collar?

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a large, five-year deer predator study in which bobcats, coyotes and deer of all ages and genders are caught and collared with a GPS unit that tells researchers where the animals are at all times.

Imagine a researcher in northern Wisconsin sitting at a computer dialing into this deer’s transmitter number and pinpointing her location and whether she has moved (still alive?) during the last several hours.

As the deer stares up at the power pole and is caught in a cartoon saying to the researcher, “Can you hear me now?”

Another doe stood behind a tree with just her head and shoulders showing. In this case, a bystander (hunter) sees the deer and imagines complaining to the DNR secretary. “Thanks for putting a deer behind every tree, but next time put them in front of the tree, please.”

Another deer stood looking up a tree and realizing she had walked under a hunter’s elevated stand. You can put the deer’s fright or cuss words in the deer’s mouth.

Some hunters need to take the deer season less seriously and laugh at themselves when they mess up, either how they look or their ability to mentally measure a deer’s rack within a quarter-inch at 100 yards and then miss the shot.

Enjoy the humor in this season, too.

Season Snippet: The Legislature passed a law closing deer season alternate years beginning in 1925.

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