Wednesday, January 29, 2014

28. The brutes are more devious than they seem

"I owe you my life, Dr. Mark Lee.  I don't know how to thank you," said Shannon after they had checked into a Holiday Inn in Allentown, PA, at two o'clock in the morning.  Allentown was not on Marks original itinerary, but at the last moment, Mark wanted to check on something there.

"Don't mention it, Shannon.  You would have done the same for me."

"Would I?"  She asked herself in thought, "- risk my life for a near-total stranger, for whom I have no special feeling, who is not a factor in my life, whose true motive is unclear..."  

She had also re-weighed her options, which now had boiled down to three: go somewhere by herself, go to Alan Wells' guarded residence to stay a few weeks, or go with Mark to travel on the road for the same few weeks.

Mark seemed to have read her mind.  "It boils down to security versus adventure, and solitude versus company," he said with his easing smile.

"Alright, for now, I choose adventure with company," she returned the smile, "versus security in solitude that is."

"Although I do have to add," said Mark with a put-on professorial air, "that solitude can also mean total freedom."

"I know exactly what you mean, Professor, but at this point, with a healthy dose of fear thrown in, solitude does not make me feel all that free." 

"I do find freedom in my solitude,"Mark said, returning to his natural self, "but I also like company if it is right.  As for the 'adventure' aspect, I have to flatly state that it won't include 4-star hotels.  I'm not on a grant and am doing this tour on the fly and on the cheap."

"Well, since given my independent streak I would insist on paying my own share anyway, and since I have pretty much drained my financial resources in legal fees, even if you habitually do Hilton-hopping, I will still go with Motel-6s.  We'll just have to regroup the next morning."

"Right on!  Motel 6, here we come!" Mark mock exulted.  

In reality, Mark had developed an extensive network of friends and colleagues who had hosted speaking events and organized media interviews on his behalf before, and/or put him up for the night or for the week, during his previous seven long lecture tours each covering up to 40 states in 7 monthsAnd when he left, many would put together for him a care-package for the road and offered him open invitations to return.   

They did so for several reasons.  Mark never charged an honorarium from his host nor an entrance fee from his audience.  It was for free, but those who attended would always contribute enough voluntarily to cover all expenses and then some - after his presentations.  A couple of times a host would say during the intro, "Dr. Lee's talk could last for two hours non-stop.  How many would need to leave early?" and five out of fifty might raise their hands, but by the end of the talk, no one had left.    

Allentown, Pennsylvania, was one of the hot spot in one of Mark's previous tours.  While his shoot out against "Colonel" Samuel Bachman was personal, his offensive in Allentown  would be categorical - yes, against bow-hunting as a category, so don't take it personally.  

The next morning, Mark pulled a little surprise.  During breakfast at Holiday Inn's cafe, Shannon asked, mostly just to make conversation, "So, what are we gonna be doing today?"
Mark held up one index finger and said, "One moment please."

He got out of his seat and walked briskly to the lobby.  Within ten seconds, he returned with a copy of the free local weekly tabloid the Allentown Herald.  As he placed it on the table, the front-page news story headline shouted out, "TREXLER DEER CULL RELUCTANTLY GRANTED".  The article read:

"The Trexler Wildlife Preserve is again overrun with whitetail deer resulting in heavy ecological damage.  

"City Council passed seven to three to grant yet another round of culling to reduce the deer population by approximately half.  

"Deer culls have become an annual operation as of 2006.  In 1906, General Harry Trexler established this preserve with his dying wish that no hunting was to be allowed within preserve boundaries.  It was honored for a full century, until 2006.  And now, it has become an annual event.

"Due to its proximity to residential dwellings, where discharging firearms is prohibited, only bow and arrow will be used.  There is no shortage of volunteers, as in every year..."

"We're going to pay General Trexler a visit today," said Mark when Shannon looked back up from the paper.

"Great!  I'd like to see for myself what kind of ecological damage is done, and maybe photograph some deer in the process," said Shannon, genuinely enthused.

"Let's just go in my car."

In Mark's car, he produced a red bandana and handed it to Shannon, saying, to her surprise, "Blindfold yourself with this please.  I have first to go some place secret."

Shannon gave him an exaggerated look before tying the bandana over her own eyes.  

"It won't be too long, please bear with me," said Mark while driving his car out of the hotel parking lot.

Fifteen minutes later, the car came to a halt.  Mark walked over to the passenger side and helped Shannon out of the car.  "Hold on to my arm.  We'll walk for about five minutes, and then we could remove the blindfold," he said.  "Don't worry, you won't trip."

Shannon went along with him, with her hand on his arm, and they walked slowly like an old couple up an incline until it leveled off.  And then, the ground changed from asphalt to gravel.  Mark stopped and said, "Your blindfold can come off now."

Shannon did that, and gave her eyes the time to adjust.

"Tell me what you think you are looking at," said Mark.

When her vision cleared, she saw row upon row of a certain vegetable-type plant she could not identify.  The size of the plantation was easily twice the size of a football field.  It was surrounded on all sides by a thick forest, except on one side, where there was a large clearing that had not been plowed or planted.  Where the fields and woods met, she saw larger woodpiles every fifty feet or so.  

"A farm?" she ventured.


"You mean..."

Mark just looked at her.

"You mean that this is the Trexler Wildlife Preserve?"

"You got it."

"I'm not sure I understand."

"This is a mixed plantation of deer clover, rape and soy.  They are rich deer food."

"So...?  Ah, is there a do-gooder who planted them here for the deer to feed on to give the preserve's ecology a break?  But still, it doesn't make sense.  They've plowed down acres of forest to make room for the plantation.  Are you saying that they destroyed a part of the forest in order to protect the rest?"

"Nice guess, Shannon.  But, sorry, no such noble motive is involved.  The basic science is that rich food will result in a high reproductive rate for the deer, so that instead of having no fawn or singlet during lean food times, the well nourished does now have twins or triplets."

"What?  I'm now thoroughly confused.  I thought they wanted to cut down the deer population, not multiply it."

"Just the opposite is true."

"You mean... they want to deliberately make the deer overpopulate?"


"But...  Are you saying that they want a high population of deer - for hunting purposes?"


"My God!  How devious!"

"And that is not all."  

"What else could there be?"

"Have you heard of the Compensatory Rebound Effect?"

"Can't say that I have."

"It is the flip side of the plantation, but of the same coin.  By culling the deer population by half, they also in effect double the food supply per deer, leading to deer overpopulation the next year, and the year after that."

"Wow, now I think I'm beginning to see.  So, who created the plantation by cutting down the forest?"

"The combination of the bow-hunters and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).  The City of Allentown either had no choice but to go along, or is in fact in collusion with them."

"So, the prime driving force for this 'cull' is in fact the bow-hunters?"

"I should say the Bow-Hunting Expansion Movement."

"Damn!  These brutes are smarter than I've given them credit for."

"Devious the word, and of course unprincipled."

"How do you get to know about this?"

"I was here in 2006 when they started it.  A few local activists showed it to me.  I even brought the Allentown Herald reporter with me for him to see for himself.  I also gave him all the photos I'd taken."

"So how did the people of Allentown react when they read the article?"

"They didn't."

"Why not?"

"The reporter killed it.  What he did report on was that the first buck 'harvested' in the preserve in a full century, and a record trophy at that, was by a female bow-hunter named Rebecca Bates."

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