Monday, July 30, 2007

The author and authenticity of this tale are unknown. However, it was just too dang hysterical not to share...

Venison Kansas style:

I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that since they congregated at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away) that it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope.. The cattle, which had seen the roping thing before, stayed well back.. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes my deer showed up, 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it. .It took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and received an education.

The first thing that I learned is that while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope. That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope with some dignity. A deer, no chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it.. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I originally imagined. The only up side is that they do not have as much stamina as many animals. A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head.

At that point I had lost my taste for corn fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope. I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in, so I didn't want the deer to have to suffer a slow death. I managed to get it lined up to back in between my truck and the feeder, a little trap I had set beforehand. Kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and started moving up so I could get my rope back..

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head, almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts. The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective. It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now) tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the hound out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day. Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp.. I learned a long time ago that when an animal like a horse strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape. This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond I devised a different strategy. I screamed like woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that the re is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and three times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now when a deer paws at you and knocks you down it doesn't immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head. I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.

Now for the local legend. I was pretty beat up. My scalp was split open, I had several large goose eggs, my wrist was bleeding pretty good and felt broken (it turned out to be just badly bruised) and my back was bleeding in a few places, though my insulated canvas jacket had protected me from most of the worst of it. I drove to the nearest place, which was the co-op. I got out of the truck, covered in blood and dust and looking like I’d just come from a bar-room brawl. The guy who ran the place saw me through the window and came running out yelling "what happened"

I have never seen any law in the state of Kansas that would prohibit an individual from roping a deer. I suspect that this is an area that they have overlooked entirely. Knowing, as I do, the lengths to which law enforcement personnel will go to exercise their power, I was concerned that they may find a way to twist the existing laws to paint my actions as criminal. I swear, not wanting to admit that I had done something monumentally stupid played no part in my response. I told him "I was attacked by a deer." I did not mention that at the time I had a rope on it. The evidence was all over my body. Deer prints on the back of my jacket where it had stomped all over me and a large deer print on my face where it had struck me there. I asked him to call somebody to come get me. I didn't think I could make it home on my own. He did.
Later that afternoon, a game warden showed up at my house and wanted to know about the deer attack. Surprisingly, deer attacks are a rare thing and wildlife and parks was interested in the event.. I tried to describe the attack as completely and accurately as I could. I was filling the grain hopper and this deer came out of nowhere and just started kicking the hell out of me and BIT me. It was obviously rabid or insane or something. EVERYBODY for miles around knows about the deer attack (the guy at the co-op has a big mouth). For several weeks people dragged their kids in the house when they saw deer around and the local ranchers carried rifles when they filled their feeders. I have told several people the story, but NEVER anybody around here. I have to see these people every day and as an outsider, a "city folk," I have enough trouble fitting in without them snickering behind my back and whispering "there is the dumb-butt” that tried to rope the deer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ane Mulligan tagged me with some great questions for readers and writers. Since I’m always looking for excuses not to work, I decided to play along!

Here are the questions:

1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?

I would love to finish a book I started several years ago about Scottish king, Malcolm Canmore. Just haven’t had the time (or energy) to finish the research, what with all the mysteries I’ve been working on lately.

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?

My daughter is taking an Honors English course next year with required summer reading. Two of those books are Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye. I think I would read Catcher in the Rye again, just to refresh my memory. It’s been years since I read that one.

3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?

Besides pen and paper? Well, that would have to be my computer. I never really used a typewriter much, except when I was at work.

4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?

I try to read at least two or three books a month, more if I happen to be judging a contest. I like to stay current on the kinds of projects other people are working on, and what publishers are buying.

5. What's your favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned?

My Toshiba laptop. I LOVE that thing! I can write anywhere, including my bed. Really helps when I want to meet my word count for the day, if I can flip the thing open first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read?

Ah. . .I love medieval and regency tales. Knights. Kings. Dukes and Duchesses. What’s not to love? They are all thoroughly romanticized, of course, with none of the icky truth of living in the time period—things like no indoor plumbing, deodorant, or personal hygiene products. Still. . .

7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock. I LOVED that story. Must have read it a thousand times. In fact, pondering this question made me think back to that book, and I went ahead and ordered a copy from Amazon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The End.

It always feels good to write those last two words—for about five minutes. After that, I face the daunting task of (gasp) rewrites.

So what is the purpose of rewrites? Wasn’t the story good enough the first time I wrote it? The simple fact is, when I sit down to write, I’m not thinking about strong character development, story movement, or plot holes. I’m thinking about spinning a yarn. I imbue it with a few colorful strands of course, funny scenes and such. But overall, my focus is on getting from page one to page two hundred and one, with several pages in between.

Now, as my story winds down and I am zeroing in on the last fifteen thousand words, I’ve started pondering all the loose threads. Did I really tie up all the frazzled ends? Has my character been fully developed, with not only a past and present, but the possibility of a bright future? Were all the clues placed properly, and is the outcome satisfying to the reader? Those are the questions I seek to answer as I begin the task of rewriting.

See, it’s not so much about changing the story, as it is fleshing it out. By now, I’ve gotten to know my characters pretty well. Actually, that’s an understatement. These characters have lived with me for months. They have become living, breathing, people inside my head, and with my new understanding for their fears, motives, and desires, I am better able to go back and weave in those little nuances that make them feel real. And let’s not forget all those little misspelled, misplaced, or outright omitted words that need to be filled in. Spit and polish, polish and spit. That’s what a really great critique group is for. I’ve got two, and I’m so glad to have them.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Crazy Cousin Mary was dead. There was no doubt about it.

Catchy, huh?

That is the opening line of my latest book, The Trouble With Mary. Problem is here lately, the trouble hasn’t been with Mary, it’s been with me, and finding time to write.

I took on some added responsibilities at church when our youth minister resigned and we needed somebody to fill in. Shortly after that, we went through a reorganization at work, and my responsibilities not only changed, they grew! Added to that are the normal, every day things that pull in so many different directions. When is a girl supposed to sit down and crank out a book?

For me, finding time to write meant learning to be ultra organized. No TV for this writer chick. I cut out the hours watching “Gilmore Girls” and focused on creating characters of my own. Guess I’ll have to wait until next season to find out of Luke and Lorelai ever get married.

I also limited my emails. My crit partners can tell you, I’ve been almost invisible for the past several weeks. While this hasn’t been easy, it’s made a world of difference. Now, instead of surfing the web the minute my computer boots up, I make myself write a minimum of five hundred words. When that is accomplished, I reward myself with a few minutes of internet time before heading back to the book.

Will all this extra frugality make a difference? I hope so. I’ve twenty thousand words to go and only two months left to do it. Then again, when I say it like that, it sounds completely doable!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Remember what it was like to get away? Recharge your batteries? That's just what happened this week when I and twenty others set off for church camp. The speaker, Ed Crouch, was awesome. The praise band, Pearl Merchant, got my blood pumping and reminded me what it means to truly worship in spirit and in truth. All in was a great week!

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