Deer Departed


Deer Departed

Five deer leap to their death off parking garage

The morning edition of the Chicago Sun Times, December 8th, 2005. 

I had bought the newspaper on my way through O’Hare Airport as I waited for the next leg of my flight back to Des Moines.  As I read the article, I feared that I knew what had happened.

Six of us went hunting on Sunday. No it was not in season but in the hills of West Virginia not much is noticed.  We had just been released from the Army and were spending a week at Mark’s home in Ranson.

As we worked to flush more game, Mark told me of the sacred white deer that the few local Indians worshiped. I was surprised to hear that he and the other four had seen one of deer and had shot at it.

No, he did not know what had happened or if they had even hit it, but they found no carcass and no blood trail.

Monday morning, we broke fast at the local waffle house. Mark and my other four companions looked hung-over.  Mark denied that he had been drinking as the others replied the same.

Strangely enough, they all had the same nightmare. Mark explained that it had started as an otherworldly chanting noise. Dreams of a white doe and buck had flashed again and again amongst a surreal history of the area. Words could not be understood but visions of Indians hunting, ships sailing on the waters of the Cohongorooton (“a river of geese” also known as the Pethomak, now the Potomac, “meeting place”).  Peaceful meetings with white men were followed by images of  Indians and white deer, hunted and driven into the Western mountains.

I left them to make my arrangements for the rest of my trip home. First, by bus to Leesburg, then to D.C. and a day of flying with a long lay over in Chicago.

We met again for supper, looking no better, Mark related to me that they still could hear chanting. No one else but the five of them could hear it and to hear him tell it was driving him batty.  After supper I packed and we all climbed into the van. After a short drive down to the bus station, we parked in the nearby parking structure, even at this hour there were no spots open below the fifth floor. We hauled my cases down to the station and said our goodbyes. Mark said to me that we would not see each other again and wished me a good life.

And so as I read,

“For reasons that mystify authorities, five deer that made their way onto the top of a five-story parking garage suddenly leaped to their deaths. Police Cpl. Steve Cox found the does' bodies..."They took the plunge," he said. "It was just absolutely weird."  A woman called police Sunday when she saw the deer falling, and Cox said he found scratches and animal hair on the fifth floor, indicating that's where they had been. It's unclear how the deer got into the garage, but Cox said they may have become frightened after getting trapped. Cars moving through the garage may have spooked them, he said. ...The carcasses were given to passersby for butchering.”

I wonder if the van is still on the fifth floor…


Dean Vandusen

Sacred Deer

Wow, that is a beautiful and heavy story. What horror must those five have endured and what resolution they embraced. Where they given any understanding of what was happening or a why?

Again, wow!

Sacred Deer - from the story Deer Departed

From the parting comments of wishing a person a good life and expecting to never see them again, I would suspect a growing perception that life is going to change in someway, however, I believe that the shock of transformation and all of life's experiences made worthless, drove out human thought, and just the animal instinct of escape via the largest opening available, lead to the fatal plunge. As for understanding why, well this story would have to be told from their perspective, perhaps by a different author.

Thank you for sharing the

Thank you for sharing the experience. A white deer is very rare, almost a myth, can't believe that they can shoot the deer.
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