(The following is a rerun from the summer of 2002. Buster is deer bowling in heaven. Tsuga has learned the rules of the sport. And we've learned that a yellow lab makes for much easier viewing than a black one. It's the kind of entertainment you really have to see to appreciate. But as a tribute to Buster and to celebrate a new season of deer-wrangling, here's the play-by-play.)
Ah yes, it is that time of year once again when we play one of our favorite games here on Goose Creek: Deer Bowling.
Appropriate attire: rubber knee-high 'barn boots'; cap to keep the deerflies off your head; everything else is up to you.
Time: nightly, seasonally adjusted to about 20 minutes before 'real dark'. Must be able to see 2-300 yards, at least the color WHITE.
Team 1) Buster, the goofy Black Lab, plus participant-observers
Team 2) Deer. Team size varies from 2 to 6 typically; more than 6 is permissable, less than 2 is hardly worth the effort.
Team 2 Rules: Team 2 must be allowed to graze peacefully over in the pasture for at least 15 minutes...enough time to lower their vigilance, concentrate on the timothy and clover. Further, Team 2 is to remain in set positions that are established at the time Team One appears. Although they may snort threateningly, they may not move until Buster of Team 1 is within 100 yards.
Team 1 Rules: Participant-observers (from 1 to 3 participants, usually me and the wife) must excercise stealth in their approach to the playing field. Talking is forbidden and Fred is restricted from whistling, no matter what. All members of Team 1 cross the creek together. Buster of Team 1 begins his challenge exactly here.
Play: Buster sneaks up to the corner of the barn, lifting each paw slowly, creeping around the barn to the bend in the pasture beyond which Team 2 becomes visible. Running may commence at this point, although the generally slower participant-observers of Team 1 are clumsily just crossing the creek in their clunky rubber boots at this point. That is tuff, play has already commenced.
Scoring: Buster rounds the corner at a high rate of accelleration, reaching terminal velocity by the first quarter of the pasture length. Deer continue to graze. A mid field, one or two deer look up in a bored fashion. At three-quarters of the length of the field, the action starts. All deer wheel and jump in every direction, sometimes only the white tails are visible in the dusk, and the impression is one of bowling pins richocheting left and right, or of popcorn popping.
The score is always the same: Buster gets close enough to feel like a great hunter; the deer move off just into the brush, snorting, aggravated for long enough for Team 1 to get about half way back to the house at which time Team 2 returns, to consume the playing field; and participant-observers laugh at the whole scene, thinking: Dang! THIS is a great game!