The grass was missing from an area about five feet either side of the animal where the antlers had gouged the earth for who knows how long. Steam rose from its body and mixed with the mist rising from the rest of the field. There was soil and grass all over the deer and it was indeed in great distress.
This woman was under the impression I was a vet of some kind, I don’t for one moment think she was listening when she came to the window of my car.
“Come on, come on” her hands were on her knees as she hurried me along. I set down everything I was carrying and quietly walked up to her, putting my hands on her shoulders and looking directly into her eyes. I more or less begged her to be quiet and to join her companion on the other side of what used to be the fence.
It wasn’t until I explained just how dangerous this stag could be and just how big he would be if I could release him that she began to listen, Molly was still uncertain and was about to tell me why she should stay when she realised I was trying to tell her without swearing; Her shoulders were down as she headed for the fence and her companion.
“The towels – you may need the towels!” – It was her last effort to remain, but my eyes told her the whole story. She left the towels and went off to the fence.
I couldn’t tell her how ineffective the fence would be but that would take more time – time I didn’t have. Time needed to save this beautiful creature, time I maybe would wish for if he turned out to be awkward. I had no plan, time was not really something. In fact, if I had more time I would look for an excuse to leave this place and not look back. How, just how was I going to help this creature, brought to his knees by a piece of wire? The large black eye looked at me unblinking. I could see he was on the verge of giving up. It was now or never!
I think it was adrenalin that took over. I took off my coat and as gently as I could half placed; half threw it between the stag’s antlers. Not a flicker, not a movement from him. I was sweating more from fear than anything. Looking in his eye moved me, so if he gets up from this and I can’t run fast enough – what the hell!
The bolt cutter blade slid under the wire first time. If I could have crossed myself (in a religious way) now would have been a good time. Snap, the wire shot off like a broken elastic band and coiled on itself as it went. I couldn’t believe that I had time to watch it disappear in both directions .
Nothing, nothing happened for what seemed ages, the stag made no move to do anything, nor did I. We just looked into one another’s eyes as if deciding what next. Discretion, I thought as I started to slide away from the scene, then I had another thought. What if there is some wire I can’t see that is still holding him? I halted my escape and tried to find any reason for him still being prostrate on the ground like this.
It began quite slowly; the eye I had been looking into a couple of moments ago flickered, then again. I saw a muscle twitch in his neck; a ripple ran from his neck down his shoulder and on down his front leg. Suddenly I knew what he was doing- in his plight he found himself unable to move from this restraining object. Now he was testing to see why he wasn’t held to the ground. The ripple that had started in his neck now raced down his flank and on down his back legs.
He started to gently raise his head and as he found the horrible wire that had held him was gone, the huge antlers and his head now raised far enough for him to look at me with both eyes. My mind was racing – could I leave here at a gallop and reach my car before he could get up on all fours. I decided against that move and just lay and watched as if I was a third party, watching from the side lines.
It seemed to take forever for this beautiful beast to totter from a prone position to an ungainly shuffle to get to his feet. Even then he resembled a new born foal trying to stand for the first time. He was breathing deeply – the steam exuding from his nostrils like a great steam train ready to leave the platform. Still very unsteady and still both eyes on me, he shook himself like a giant Labrador after going for a swim.
By now I was lost in wonder, fear had left me, I was in a different place as I watched his every move. He shook himself again and again to rid himself of the wire pieces still in his antlers. Most of them were dispatched but he still had a few minor pieces that would take a little time to remove. I would like to think we parted as friends but as he sauntered off to the other side of the enclosure he didn’t even look back.
It was time to get back to reality as I made the effort to get up and pick up my coat and the few bits of tools I had used. My legs seemed to belong to someone else, the muscles in my thighs just refused to do anything at all. I was brought back to earth with the sudden realisation my body was drained of adrenalin; infact it was drained of everything. I rolled over and sat up as best I could. Molly and her companion were coming over from where they had watched the whole scene.
“Can we help?” she asked.
“I could do with a bit of a lift maybe”
Without questioning they took an arm each and yanked me up on my feet. That was the easy part, now to find out if I could walk. I too now felt like a newborn foal as I tried to come to terms with these two foreign objects called legs. They wanted to do everything but walk. Pins and needles were replacing adrenalin so I knew it was just a matter of a few minutes before I could get underway.
“OK” Molly asked “If you can manage I will collect your stuff”.
And sure enough within a short while and with only one support I managed my way back to where my car was parked.
Sitting in my car my heart rate steady, blood pressure somewhere near where it should be I mad avow to myself; Bloody well make sure what it is I have let myself in for before sallying off into the wild blue yonder.