Off Balance in Blaze Orange

“The morning air is all awash with angels… …keeping their difficult balance.”

Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”

The morning air is awash with orange in Wisconsin,
gun deer season almost here, all the manly men
and women hanging their gear on the line so the doe urine
don’t stink up the house so much. All righty then:

we all must choose who we are: our inner Zen Fransciscan
who is APPALLED at the blood and gore being
touted as a family ritual over Thanksgiving,

OR our car-insurance-paying selves who thank
every roadkill we’re not responsible for hitting,
every hunter who lowers the population,

OR all our cells currently, valiantly fighting
off all the diseases that are tick-borne
with names more beautiful than Lyme or Rocky Mountain–

babesiosis, and tularemia (which sounds like a dance),
OR we must admit those doe eyes, so longingly brown,
do nothing reliably but throw us off balance.



Of course, another choice is participating in the hunt, enjoying the family tradition and ritual. I’m not a vegetarian, and I’m not anti-hunting, so I actually do see that as a perfectly fine option (it just didn’t occur to me as I was writing the poem, and I was trying to list the choices as I see them for myself as a non-hunter).


I was also interested in Dave Zweifel’s column, “If only hikers spent as much as hunters,” in terms of one of the basic things that keeps the hunt the way it is in Wisconsin–money-bucks and not boy-deer-bucks. He points out that “those folks who stroll in the woods don’t buy ammo and guns, down six packs of beer and devour big, juicy steaks after the sun goes down.”


Well. If we’re not shooting, there’s no need to buy ammo and guns.  And I’m not so big on the steak-eating.   But by golly, I’m going to try and buy lots and lots of beer, which I’m sure will do nothing but add clarity to the issue.


3 responses to “Off Balance in Blaze Orange

  1. I almost entitled this, “You Killed Bambi’s Mother? Thanks!” but then it clashed a little with the tone.

  2. Marvelous. Every morning on my drive to work I see their broken corpses, all of their grace gone. You captured the feeling perfectly.

  3. The hunters were out in full force this morning on my drive into work. Had one hunter decked out in full camoflage gear, carrying a shotgun, step out in front of my husband’s truck and I almost ran over him. Guess it is open season on any animal resembling Bambi or his friends. Hate seeing them abandoned on the side of the backroads each morning after the nightly deer and vehicle games. More often than not, the deer lose the competition. I am not fond of guns or killing for the sport of it, myself.

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