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-FROM THE EDITOR- 11 March, 2004-


    So I'm standing there in midstream doing what I normally do when I visit a new river for the first time: getting skunked. I haven't had a bite in two hours and am starting to think about driving upstream to see exactly where the strychnine plant is dumping water into the creek. I'm looking upstream, mentally composing my nasty letter to the Environmental Protection Agency when I see this:

    If you don't notice anything, look again, about an inch and a half to the right of the first rock upstream. At first, I think it's a dog, but as it gets closer I correctly identify it as a deer, and a very small one. A little-known corollary to Murphy's Law states that "any time something interesting happens, you will have neither a camera nor a corroborating witness", but I guess Murphy's Law has been pretty much used up already on this God-awful fishing trip. I immediately grab my camera and snap the picture above, and calculate that this tiny deer is going to pass about 15 feet away from me. "This is going to win me Reuter's Photograph of the Year", I think to myself, and get ready to snap off another photograph of the struggling fawn, mentally pondering titles: "The Cruelty of Nature" or "Deer Lord, I Wish I Could Swim".

    Suddenly the thought hits me: "This deer may very well die if I just stand here and take pictures". As you can tell, the water in this stream is moving pretty quickly, and the water is generally about waist deep in most spots, probably too deep for the young animal to gain secure footing. Perhaps the deer's feet are tangled in some fishing line. I make a snap decision to help the deer, I lower the camera and begin wading frantically toward the point where the deer and myself ought to meet if we both maintain our current rates of speed.

    Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, I immediately slip and fall into the frigid water in my rushed attempt to play "Bambi Baywatch". For a panicked second, I hope against hope that this deer has received training in water rescue. In less than one wet, cold, flailing second I regain my footing and look back upstream for the fawn. There it is, standing about knee deep on a rocky shoal. I swear the deer is laughing it's ass off at me. I curse at the deer. Loudly.

    I realize that my camera and fishing rod are no longer in my possession, but luckily I had the sense to fling them both upstream before I went under. As I gather my belongings, this intrepid little animal is still standing there, obviously amazed at the incredible sights one can witness during a day's swim on the river. By this time, I am wondering what the fine is for strangling a deer out of season. Trying to regroup and get all my gear reorganized, I realize the only safe place to stand is already taken by the deer, so I head for the shoal and the deer, wondering if I know any good recipes for veal venison. Apparently realizing that the White Man will either kill him, take his land, introduce him to fire water or try and convert him to Christianity, the deer flees. I snap a few more pictures. Judge for yourself whether this deer was actually in mortal danger or just out for an afternoon swim:

    Judging from the wake my little friend is cutting across some of the fastest water in the stream, I doubt he was ever in any danger whatsoever. Check out the white spots. This little fellow is just a couple months old and obviously swims and wades a lot better than Yours Truly.

    Had I just stayed still and snapped pictures, I would've gotten some really great shots. As it is, I got some decent pictures and a cold bath. How was the fishing? To the best of my knowledge, that deer is the only living thing ever to swim in that creek. Hope he doesn't drink the water.





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