I was raised in a farm in Brazil, “Fazenda Taboa”, located deep in the rich red soil of northern São Paulo state – the “Alta Mogiana” region. And, just like Scarlet O’Hara got her strength from Tara, I replenish my heart and soul when surrounded by family and friends in the cool veranda or shooting white winged doves that come to nest on the old mango and giant fig trees, in the few precious days I can visit Taboa each year.
When I was a child we knew about four deer species in Brazil, from the Labrador size “veado-mateiro” to the majestic “cervo-do-pantanal”, probably bigger than a mule-deer, and one of the largest mammals in South America. Nowadays biologists tell us there are eight deer species in Brazil, including one identified so recently that the poor animal only has a scientific name and the, common to Michiganders, white-tailed deer, known as Cariacu in Brazil and found in the savannahs of Roraima, north of the Amazon river.
My first contact with deer came when I was four or five years old. My father was driving my mother’s car, fast as usually, in the dirt roads we relied on, when we hit a doe of the small (under 60 pounds) “veado-catingueiro” (deer collision is not a privilege of Michigan). While still alive, the little doe could not be saved and her hide was my bed side rug for years.
In Brazil, the traditional way to hunt deer was “ridding the hounds”, in a similar fashion to fox hunting in Great Britain, although I can guarantee I never saw a single hunter with a red coat or even a tie. We enjoy a more relaxed life style in the tropics.
One day, when I was around seven, my father organized such a hunt and invited some friends. It was winter, sometime between June and August when the days are not too hot, the nights are cool and it is very dry. The expedition consisted of about ten hunters and equal number of horses, twice as many dogs, my mother with a large lunch to be served under old shade trees and a wild bunch of children. Sometime between main course and dessert the dogs found a deer, the hunters mounted and went after the “toque” as we call the sound and general action of dogs pursuing prey. We, children, stayed with my mother and the remaining of the lunch, spread over the white table cloth on the ground, and we did not even have time to be bored. Somehow the “toque” changed direction and that deer, followed by twenty frantic dogs came running right over the dishes while hunters and horses were kind enough to go around us.
Unhappily today, even with twice as many identified species as thirty years ago, any deer hunting (well almost any hunting at all) is outlawed in Brazil and the consequences are that it is very rare to see a deer or other mammals almost anywhere, unless you go far away from civilization. WARNING: Never allow the eco-terrorists to gain a position in this great country. The kind of damage they can do is unbearable for anyone of us who loves the outdoors.