Plastic Deer Shot By Hunters

Status: Satire
Jim Heffernan reports for the Duluth News Tribune that: "Homeowners who decorate their yards with life-sized plastic deer are complaining the sculptures are being damaged by those stalking real deer during Duluth's special season for bowhunters." That seems believable enough, but the article gets a little stranger with the first interviewee, Orval Pussywillow (that can't be a real name), whose "decorative doe, Felicity, had an arrow sticking out of her hind quarter," but whose "lawn ornament depicting the posterior of a fat woman bending over" was unmolested. Other locals interviewed include Randy Waxwing, Thelma Twelvetrees, Msgr. Ernest X. Chasuble, and Professor Michael Angelo (head of the Sculpture and Human Sexuality Department at the Arrowhead College of Carnal Knowledge).

I like the part where Heffernan reports that "religious leaders are concerned that fake donkeys in Christmas nativity scenes will be shot at by hunters when churches erect creches on their lawns around Thanksgiving... Religious leaders said either the hunt should be suspended during the holidays or characters in the displays should be adorned with blaze orange garments."

So most of the article has to be a joke. However, I'm wondering if any of it is real. Was there really a report of a plastic deer shot by a hunter in Duluth? Or did Heffernan make the whole thing up?


Posted on Mon Sep 26, 2005


Not really sure but I do know that there are fake deers (really well made, can even turn their heads and blink eyes) to lure illegal hunters. I've seen it on TV. Don't know how well it works but it's a good start.
Posted by Yushi  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  02:14 AM
Professor Michael Angelo (head of the Sculpture and Human Sexuality Department at the Arrowhead College of Carnal Knowledge).

Damnit, I want his job!
Posted by Boo  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  03:17 AM
Indeed, you would classify well for this position, Boo-love...
Posted by LaMa  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  06:06 AM
I don't think there was ever a plastic deer shooting incident. Hello...THEY'RE NOT MOVING. That would be my first clue, the second would be that they're strategically placed in someone's front YARD. Since when can you just hunt in the middle of suburbia?
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  09:09 AM
around where i live this happens a lot. the DNR (dept of natural resources) have fake deer they post along roads that are slightly mechnacal where they turn their heads and blink and stuff. they post these to lure spotlighters (people who see a deer shine a very powerful light on the deer to freeze it up then shoot it) the penalyties for shooting illegally are almost as bad as killing a person around here lol so the article is a hoax but this stuff isnt uncommon for country sites
Posted by donnie  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  11:20 AM
Maegan, my uncle hunts within 100 yards of his trailor sometimes. People have deer come up to their houses all the time. People who are trespassing or otherwise hunting illegally probably aren't too careful of how close to dwellings they are.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  11:27 AM
I hear about this all the time and even remember my uncle once shot a "lawn ornament" deer while hunting. With a lot of hunters...poachers especially, drinking is sometimes part of the activity, and it seems its more sport shooting than actually hunting. I live in a city with about 300,000 people in it and we sometimes get deer in our city parks.

As far as the last name "Pussywillow" i would think it is possible, I've seen some pretty weird names out there.

The ornament of the fat lady bending over...I've seen them for sale around here, and I've even seen them in people's yards.
Posted by Travis  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  01:07 PM
Living in Wisconsin you often will see during deer season, fake deer with blaze orange bandana's on them as the homeowner is showing them to be fake. Being we are very rural, hunting around or close to houses can be the normal even though the law gives a clear distance from roads and houses that you must give as clearance. I also refer to what is know as "buck fever". Young or excited hunters mistake people, other animals, and even fake deer as real trophies.
Posted by Doug  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  03:23 PM
Mechanical deer, are not the same as lawn ornaments. Lawn ornaments are generally in the front yard, facing the rdwy. I have been hunting before...If I'm using a tree stand, then, I'm generally out in the middle of BFE...the deer would have to come into my line of sight for me to try and use it as a target. If I'm in a blind on the ground, it's pretty much the same thing...middle noplace, waiting for a deer to cross my path.

While we do look for scat, prints in the earth, and where they've scratched up against the saplings...those do not usually lead us to FAKE LAWN ORNAMENTS.

While drinking may be 'part' of hunting (I can't say I'd ever go out into the woods with a drunk person and GUN for crying out loud), it's just bad practice. Then again, I'm hunting in Florida, maybe we're smarter than your average bear.
Posted by Maegan  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  05:34 AM
Out here in eastern Maryland is a sort of heavily-populated rural area, if that's not too much of a contradiction of terms. Those deer yard decorations are very popular here, as are plastic geese. And every year, quite a few of them get blown away by hunters. Even when the statues are in somebody's yard in the middle of a town. Many hunters don't bother to actually look all that closely at what they're shooting at; they just see (or even just think that they see) something that may be a deer, and they open fire. I saw a couple of hunters in a pickup-truck shooting up a school-yard in the middle of a town they'd been driving through one foggy morning, because they'd thought that they'd seen "something moving" in the fog. The fact that there was a bunch of kids over in the direction that they were shooting, and the fact that firing guns from a vehicle is illegal here, simply didn't register with them in the excitement of the hunt.

All of the fake deer I've seen or heard of getting shot were hit by gunfire, though, not arrows. Bow hunting is fairly popular out here, but the only archery incident I recall hearing about was when some hunter managed to shoot himself through the shoulder with his own arrow (I have no idea how he managed that miraculous feat).
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  07:10 AM
I've seen some stupid stuff in people's front yards and I've been hunting (damn near shot a cow once but I took a second look)but I wonder about the people shooting a fake deer with the bent over woman figure right near it. Hunters I went out with didn't have tunnel vision that bad. And bow hunters have to get a lot closer than rifle hunters, somebody goofed badly with this if it is real.

Professor Michael Angelo sounds made up. Crunch the name together and think "David" plus Arrowhead College in an article about bow hunters? Plus mixing sculpture and human sexuality as a department? Plus the obvious put on about a college of carnal knowledge? Someone had a good start, but a crappy finish in this one.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  12:15 PM
The story - which is presumably fabricated - gets its hook from the idea that stupid hunters are mistaking fake deer for real deer. It seems more likely to me that, if these fake deer are actually being shot, then it is either as a joke or a prank, or because it is fun to shoot things.

In London it's common to see London Underground signs with bulletholes in them, because they look like circular targets; but the gunmen aren't mistaking the signs for actual targets, they're just shooting them for the fun of it. The story loses any impact it might have had if we accept that the fake deer are being shot for fun, or maliciously.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  03:40 PM
Some of them are certainly shot at by pranksters. Others are shot at by trigger-happy hunters, though. It's not as if all the people who end up getting shot during hunting season are being shot as pranks; some hunters will simply fire at anything, or even at nothing.

I agree that the news story probably owes much of its content to pure imagination, but it does have at least an element of reality at its core.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  10:04 PM
I totally believe that drunken redneck hunters would be stupid enough to shoot someone's plastic lawn ornaments!
Adrenaline/Budweiser/delusions of granduer/testosterone combined - makes sense.
I think the author of this article thinks the basic subject matter to be completely believable, too. Hell, he probably wrote it based on experience!
He's obviously not too bright, but I would guess that his line of thinking was 'I'm gonna write this seemingly sincere news article, make them wonder about it, and then reveal the joke when I quote Professor Michael Angelo's wacky commentery/credentials @ the end!'
Gosh golly gee, sculpture & human sexuality together in the same sentence?! What a crazy comic risk you've taken! I suppose he was also attempting 'irony' when quoting Michael Angelo as saying: 'plastic ornamental deer are an important part of American art on a par with department store mannequins.' Cause the real michelangelo would never say something so gosh darned crazy!
Duh, Duluth!
Posted by Electra  on  Sat Oct 01, 2005  at  01:51 PM
The article was intended as humor, broad as it was I'm surprised anyone took it seriously but there you go.

A bit of history, the city of Duluth has a fairly large deer population in the residential areas. I've looked out my window in the afternoon to see deer munching on plants in my garden. To address the problems created by these giant rats with antlers, the city decided to have an in town bow hunting only season with a limited number of permits issued.

The actual hunting was not being done in residential neighborhoods, but I live only a few blocks from one of the areas that people are allowed to hunt in.

Heffernan has often done humor columns in the past, and I would hope most people understood that. But as the saying goes, "When I was 20 I couldn't get anyone to take me seriously, now people take me seriously when I'm obviously joking."
Posted by Doug  on  Wed Nov 02, 2005  at  08:40 PM
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