By Ashley Lodato
This week’s column is titled “not dead yet” (and no, it’s not because I’m reading Phil Collins’ recent memoir).
If there is someone in the valley who knows a dead deer, it’s Seth Thomson. The son of master butcher Chris Thomson, of Thomson’s Custom Meats in Twisp, Seth has been around dead deer nearly his whole life, both as a hunter and as a meat cutter. Seth is quite familiar with both the inside and the outside of a dead deer; he sees hundreds of them every fall when he processes meat for other hunters.
Thus, when his truck struck a deer on a dark road a few weeks ago, Seth knew what he wanted to do — and what he would be legally allowed to do, thanks to Washington’s new road kill laws — with the body.
He couldn’t gut the deer right there, because the law states that you must take away the entire carcass. Plus, Seth has the keys to a high-quality meat processing facility, so why would he bother crouching down on the dark and cold roadside anyway? Seth picked up the still form and hoisted it into the back of his truck, where it lay limply, looking like any other cleanly killed deer.
On his way home to apply for his free online road kill salvage permit, Seth swung into Hank’s Harvest Foods to pick up a few things on his shopping list. It was cold — the deer would be fine in the back of the truck for a few more minutes. It’s not like the deer was going to get any deader if Seth stopped for groceries, right? As Seth shopped he rearranged his evening schedule in his head to accommodate an unexpected trip back to the butcher shop to gut and hang the deer.
So just imagine Seth’s surprise when he came back out into the parking lot 20 minutes later to witness a living deer standing up in the back of his truck, looking around in confusion! The deer was clomping around in the truck bed, probably debating making the leap to the ground, but a bit concerned about the 1987 Subaru it would inevitably land upon no matter which direction it jumped.
At this point Seth likely realized how lucky he was to have the not-dead-yet deer in a pickup — not in the back of a station wagon. He sprang into action, jumped into the cab, drove around the back of Hank’s, and pulled down the tailgate just in time to see the deer bound down and run away into the night.
WDFW law enforcement officials assure me that no crime was committed — and the WDFW person who wrote the copy for the road kill law says “this is one scenario that didn’t occur to me” — but don’t you renegades get any clever ideas for replicating Seth’s experience. Just channel Monty Python and ask yourself if that dead-looking deer is really dead yet.
Gratitude this week goes to the guys who have been grooming at Silver Star gate for the past few weeks, tiding the Nordic skiers over until the trails system closer to home opened up this past weekend.