Dear Editor,

It has come to my attention that there is a proposal to establish a White Pine County ordinance to restrict hunting and or shooting of a firearm bow or other hunting weapons within 2 miles of a city, town or residence within White Pine County because of an incident that occurred with a pet deer.

I must say as a life long White Pine resident, I am somewhat surprised such a request to be happening with in White Pine County but much more concerned that is might actually happen.

Cave Valley Ranch holds deed and pays taxes on hundreds of acres of private property within White Pine County so I feel it necessary to comment on this broad sweeping proposal that could potentially affect me.

First I would encourage all those involved to consider how this would affect everyone in the county by making such a broad sweeping ordinance because of an isolated incident.  Second, don’t make decisions based on emotion overriding common sense.  And third, I have first hand experience with this almost exact same scenario in about 2005.

I lived in Preston for a time and my 20 acre property was also home to the local pet deer which happened to be a trophy buck.  The deer had been raised from a fawn by a local after it’s mother was killed.  I remember the deer as a yearling a couple of years before and the caretaker of the deer was also a substitute teacher in Lund.  The deer would follow him around even as he walked to school where it would also interact with the kids.

After awhile, the young buck became a nuisance in Lund so it was hauled over to Preston and dumped off.  A couple years later I came home one day from my NDOW job, to find the buck standing on my front porch….again.  It was common for us and many others to feed the deer apples and other treats, this deer was particularly fond of “twinkis”.  It was kind of cool at first but after awhile, I started having concerns about people’s safety as well as the welfare of the animal itself.

The deer was created to be wild and no matter how domesticated we thought it was,  I was about to find out that wildlife will always revert back to their natural born instincts.

It was around December 1 that day so the mule deer rut was still active.  I walked up to the deer standing at my front door and he gently nudged me with his nose asking for a handout.  I obliged and got him some apple slices and fed him until there was no more.  I told him “see you later kid” and turned to go inside and he started to follow me into the house.  I turned around and naturally grabbed his horns to stop him and that’s when it happened….his nostrils flared and he squared off with me.  So there I was on the sharp end of several daggers knowing full well any one of those could end it for me.  The harder I pushed, the harder he pushed.  I’m a pretty strong physical guy but I have to say I had my hands full at that moment.  We broke the screen door, trim off the wall, and knocked over a table and charis during the struggle, but I somehow managed to get his horns turned away from me. I pointed him out the door and while running along side of him, gave him a big push, let go and ran back inside slamming the door behind me.  The buck not yet done whipping my ass, proceeded to destroy a 6 foot Colorado blue spruce in the front yard with his antlers.

Being an NDOW employee I had the authority and justification to euthanize the deer on the spot and absolutely should have due to human safety concerns, but my emotions took over and I couldn’t do it because I had grown fond of the deer, and not to mention I would have certainly been the local bad guy that killed everyone’s pet deer.  The worst part was I knew right then that I was guilty of being one of his enablers.  It was not the deer’s fault, he was instinctive doing exactly what he was born to do, survive.  I didn’t raise the deer from a fawn but I helped make him not to fear people to the point of real danger, not just for him, but for everyone he interacted with.  The buck could no longer function normally to survive because we took part of that away from him, we made him absolutely vulnerable because of our own selfishness.

Fortunately, the buck was later killed by a local “expert master guide” and posted on a social media hunting site.  I remember feeling angry and disgusted, not from the deer being killed which was inevitable but rather the manner in which the “expert master guide” portrayed his grand accomplishment.  I then could only be ashamed and angry with myself as I realized I helped kill this buck, all the opportunist did was finish the job.

The moral of the story? The hunter didn’t really kill the buck….his enablers did…I the way, pretty sure it’s illegal to feed big game…NRS 501.382 was passed in 2013.

Dana Johnson