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Saturday essay: More deer tales

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

The day began with one deer and ended with nine.

Sunrise was two hours off as the Silverado exited the Parkway to loop around to Route 51. Just as the brakes were being applied, it was there — a young deer picking up speed off the hillside, ready to bolt across the ramp. A collision was imminent.

But as the truck's anti-lock brakes kicked in, preventing a sure skid, the deer's anti-lock hooves kicked in, too, preventing a sure collision. The only hint of the averted impact — a few deer hairs stuck on a fender screw.

Fourteen hours later, at home, dusk was nigh. The greenhouse had to be buttoned up. Just as the latch to the door was being secured, it was there, just to the left — a four-point buck wishing there were no fence between his snout and a raised bed's foot-high fall peas.

We scared each other at the same time. He bolted over a terrace to rejoin a pack of eight other deer, including two fresh fawns; I bolted to the greenhouse.

There's already a bumper crop of deer in Mt. Lebanon. At nearly 57 per square mile, that's more than the like count of many states. With the mating season ahead, the deer will be especially active. And the danger will only increase, as will the deer census in seven months or so.

Who knows, maybe the board of commissioners, which refuses to do anything to cull the population (and is more concerned about banning dogs from parks), is hoping to turn a few bucks by selling tickets to rutting-buck fights.

— Colin McNickle

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