Program 11: Dogs and Deer

In this program, retired game warden Stan Holmquist tells a story about two dogs that attacked and killed deer, and what his responsibilities as a game warden required him to do. He also describes his own personal journey from being a hunter to a protector of deer.

Transcript:

Stan Holmquist

Stan Holmquist

Gregory L. Sharrow
Deer Stories is a documentary series from Vermont Folklife Center Media that explores hunting from an insider’s point of view and is drawn from interviews with hunters from around Vermont. In this program retired Game Warden Stan Holmquist reflects on dogs as predators of deer.

Stanley Holmquist
People that have dogs, I’ve talked to a lot of ‘em that really hated me because I ended up shooting their dogs. There’s a thrill in the chase. You know, they were chasing for miles and a deer is a sprinter, where a dog covers a lot of land at a nice steady pace, but the deer will run as hard as he can for a short period, probably a quarter-mile and, you know, that’s in good, on good ground. If there’s snow involved he’ll get exhausted much faster. And a deer, being a wild animal, they’ll run until the blood vessels in their lung will just explode and you’ll find the deer with white—pink foam coming out of their mouth and you can’t save it. I had a lady, she had two of the most beautiful Goldens you ever saw and I told her: Don’t let ‘em loose because, you know, they’re gonna chase deer. And I caught her dogs with a deer in a brook. Brought the dogs home and I gave her a dog letter. Within three days, I think it was, they were out chasing again, so I gave her a citation to appear in court, but the dogs started running free again, so I says that’s it. And I shot two of the nicest Goldens you ever saw. And I took the dogs back home and I said, you know, I told her, “You’re responsible for this. Don’t blame me. You are responsible. You had all, had the warning.” And I tried to get her to go up and go look at the—you know, where the dog had killed the deer ‘cause, you know, they had it in a small {pork} and there were pieces of deer hair and everything all over, blood everywhere. She wouldn’t go. She wouldn’t go. She didn’t want to see it. She had no idea there were even any deer around and she was living right in amongst them, you know. A lot of people, like city folks, they come up out of New York City or Newark, New Jersey, or places like that and they buy a second home here and, you know, they love to see the deer and they love to see the trees and all that stuff, but they just don’t—it’s more like Born Free, you know. But the deer, you know, they don’t have anybody to fend for ‘em, other than us, the Game Wardens. I went from being a hunter of deer to a protector. You know, I wouldn’t go out and shoot a deer for no money in the world. No, I wouldn’t even go out and shoot an injured one. I call the Game Warden, you know, and let him do it. I’ve had enough of that. So. I still respect, you know, that that deer is suffering and I can feel for it. And I feel for all of ‘em. On the cold days, you know, 10-below or stuff like that, I know just what they’re going through, you know? How they get down in the snow in the winter to keep warm. Oh, boy. That’s from being in the deer yards, finding their beds. And going from just being a hunter to a lover of deer, I guess is what you’d call it. It’s quite a switch. But I guess I fulfill my hunting ambition by hunting hunters. [LAUGHS.] And now, now I can look back on it all: I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved it all. So not many people can say that.

Gregory L. Sharrow
You’ve been listening to Stanley Holmquist of Rochester, Vermont. Deer Stories was produced by Erica Heilman and Gregory Sharrow for the Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury, Vermont. I’m Gregory Sharrow.