They just fall off

Photo: janetmeehan.com

Came across a guy in the Park this morning. His dog played with my dog. “You come here every morning?” he asks, and then he says “to be honest, I just come here this time of year,” and explains to me he’s on the lookout for deer antlers. “They just shed them this time of year.” This was news to me. They just fall off. They grow back from now to October, when the rutting season begins. “And what do you do with them?” I asked. “I make jewellery with them,” he laughed, a jolly wheeze. This was a man in his fifties, thick dark grey goatee, rucksack on his back and a pair of trekking poles. I asked him if the Park authorities minded. “I’ve read every by-law about this place and there’s nothing that says you can’t take them away with you. Way I see it, if you couldn’t, it’d be in black and white.” He paused. “But yeah, they stop you. That’s why I have the rucksack.” And he burst out laughing again. I was in on it. He’d gotten stopped walking out of the Park before, the antlers in one hand, his dog on a lead in the other. He told me he takes ten antlers every April. There’s about a hundred and ten deer so he leaves the rest for the Park wardens. “What do they do with them?” “Well,” he said, “their story is they give them to schools.”

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