[Warning for sensitive readers: graphic content]
It was one of those mornings. Crispy air, glittering frost and Björkåsa was bathing in sunlight. When Fredrik came with a cup of coffee to wake me up, he told me that he had heard some wild boar in the night, not far away from our house. We were wondering if they had been looking for acorns, rooting up buried treasures under the oak trees next to our house. It has been a harsh winter, I said, drinking my coffee next to the fireplace, and then Fredrik went outside to open the door to the chicken coop.
A minute later he came back, out of breath. Come outside, he said, there are two deer fighting with each other! You must see this!
I grabbed my camera and ran outside. Down the slope, behind our barn, we saw two male deer in the red morning sun, one lying in the high winter grass, the other one standing above him. We tried to sneak up on them as close as we could get, behind the old damson trees, and watched them through the thicket. The deer in the grass did no longer move while the other one seemed to show the world that he had won that fight, again and again he pushed his fellow with his antlers.
It took us a few moments before we understood that this no longer was a fight but that the two deer had gotten tangled with their antlers. While Fredrik held the ground, I ran back to the house and called Andreas, the hunter at a farm nearby. A few minutes later he was at Björkåsa, cast a glance down the hill at the two deer, and then he knew what to do.
Calm yet determined he walked towards them, while the deer that was still standing, made desperate attempts to escape, dragging the other one through the meadow. Andreas didn’t seem deterred, and after a last-ditch attempt of the deer to flee, he grabbed its hind leg, pulled it towards himself and managed to sit astride. Then he took the knife – and that was when I could no longer bear the sight and went back to the house, shaking with cold but also with fear.
From the kitchen window I could see Andreas down in the meadow, still sitting on the deer. How long does it take to stab that poor deer to death? I asked myself after what felt like many, many minutes, when I all of the sudden saw a weak-kneed deer trudging through the meadow towards the bog. The other deer was lying lifeless in the grass.
When Andreas came in, we had a cup of coffee by the fireplace, and both the warmth and the caffeine did us good after the scare of the morning. And then we understood that it hadn’t been wild boar that Fredrik had heard in the night, it must have been those two deer fighting for hours.
And then Andreas told us that the poor creatures hadn’t just tangled with their antlers. They had tangled with a massive amount of old wires that are being used for horse fences. One of the deer had lots of it coiled around its antlers – and during their fight, both deer got trapped. When those horse fences aren’t being looked after, they can turn into dangerous traps for wildlife. I felt so upset when I saw it later, the massive coil around the poor deer’s antlers (I spare you the photos I have taken). That was why it had taken such a long time for Andreas to cut loose all those wires, every single one, to free the poor deer that was still alive when he came.
First then we understood how long and desperate that fight must have been. There were traces of blood and sanding marks showing from behind our house several hundred meters down the hill. For hours the deer must have tried to get loose again, and the more they fought, the more they must have gotten tangled until one of them had died of exhaustion. It did also explain the dark clouds of ravens that had been circling over the meadow all morning, waiting for their prey.
The other hunters came and picked up the dead deer shortly after. I took a few photos, then I went back to the house to start with my work, but I found it difficult to focus on dollmaking, stitches and threads.
Only some dried blood in the grass told about the tragic morning at Björkåsa when I walked down the hill an hour later, still shaken. The frost in the meadow was glittering in the winter sun and Björkåsa looked as peaceful as always. When I went back to our house, I heard the cranes high up in the blue sky, flying towards the bog. Somewhere there, a deer is hopefully recovering from the scares of the morning.