poetry critical

online poetry workshop

How to See Deer (in Devine, Texas)

After Philip Booth

Forget trying to track.
Go nowhere expecting
anything to happen,
but bring the gun
just in case; you never know.
Go out close, but quietly,
to the deer feeder, with its corn
spilling and shooting out on a timer,
feeding the white-tails.  Get inside
the deer blind.  Be careful
with each step.  Sit
without any noise, none
at all.  Pull your rifle
into position, and
use the scope to spot
the hungry, spooked does
and sometimes their
feeble fawns, whose hooves
slip in the loose dirt
and scramble for balance,
mouths searching for corn.
There’s not much sport
left in hunting anymore,
with feeders and blinds.
Anyone with a rifle can
prop up on the wooden planks
and nab the biggest buck.
Hopeless situations tend
to favor the prepared—you,
with your prepaid
venison investment:
feeder, corn, blind,
gun, boots, clothes; time.
But for all time
in the foggy mid-dawn
you see what you see
(no guarantees).

31 Aug 05

Rated 8 (8) by 1 users.
Active (1):
Inactive (0): 8

(define the words in this poem)
(70 more poems by this author)

(1 user considers this poem a favorite)

Add A Comment:
Enter the following text to post as unknown: captcha


I love this...I'm a hunter, so it hits close to home for me.  Just well writen.
 — SaleenDriva

anyone else?
 — TaylorC

I've never touched a gun myself, but my one grandfather hunted cougar for bounty, and my other grandfather has quite the gun collection.

I liked the voice of the poem giving orders to the reader; it helped me put myself mentally into a situation that is completely alien to me. I liked the break between the fourth and fifth stanzas: "none" (break) "at all" seemed to capture that heartbeat of time when you're focusing on making no noise.

I'm wondering if this poem has a hidden anti-hunting agenda, what with lines 22-23 talking about the decline of sportsmanship in hunting, and the entire setup seeming to put does and fawns in the most danger (although of course they are protected by law from actually being killed). "Prepaid venison investment" in lines 30-31 also seems to undermine this type of hunting as a sport and spotlight it as a coldblooded commercial "thrill ride" activity.

But then that's undercut by the beginning and end of the poem telling us that no matter how much you try to control the situation with your fancy gear and with stacking the odds against the deer by baiting them and lying in wait, you really never know what you'll see out there.

--Should the plural of "hoof" be "hooves" in line 19?
 — leukothea

 — TaylorC

Stark and sad, can't see killing for sport.
 — wamblicante