When I was a regular correspondent for The Eye, I would occasionally be told what I should not write about. For example, a candidate for Treasurer thought I should not write about the anonymous person who created a fake Wesleyan student identity to campaign against Mayor Drew, and a Mayor told me there was no story in the attempted bullying of the Registrar of Voters by his campaign manager.
As a Planning and Zoning Commissioner, I now sometimes find myself on the other side of the reporter's note-pad. And when Alex Gecan of The Press called to ask about an illegal deer hunting warning that I received, I wanted to tell him this was a boring story that would be of no interest to anybody. Remembering that this was almost exactly what I heard from the mayor, I swallowed my words.
However, I did suggest that he focus on the anonymous in this story, and although I continue to think a little sunlight on anonymous would do our community a lot of good, I regret my presumption. Gecan is a good reporter with a good editor, and it is up to them to determine what is newsworthy.
Below is the full background to the Press article. I have adapted this from two separate blogposts on a personal, family blog, one written in December and one written in late February, the same posts that Gecan quotes from.
Many mornings I go for a run through Tynan Park and onto the Blue Trail on Higby Mountain, with our mutt, Sandy.
In early December two women walking their dogs stopped to tell me about an injured young male deer they had seen near the creek. They said that it was clearly suffering and weak, standing still while the three dogs barked at it. We agreed that it should be put down.
When I got to the creek, there was no deer standing, but Sandy found him lying in the leaves. The photo shows him alive.
I felt a responsibility to do something, and went home to get a knife.
I have butchered deer before, most recently after the Middletown Police alerted me to one that had just been killed by a truck in Portland (my name is one of many on a list kept by the police for just that purpose).
When I returned to Tynan Park, the buck was still alive, breathing steadily but so weak he barely lifted his head when I approached. I held his head while I put him down by cutting his jugular. He never even twitched.
I butchered in the forest, saving the 4 legs and shoulders, the saddle, heart, and liver.
The bullet wound had started to heal; it was a small dark spot towards the rear of the hindquarters. After skinning, I found huge blood clots in both legs, filling enormously gaping holes in the muscle. The bullet had passed through one leg muscle, through his urethra, and then out the other leg muscle.
The entire harvest took less than 2 hours, and I carried about 25 pounds of meat home.
I was sad to find a deer that was wounded and clearly been suffering for a long time. I was furious at the hunter who had taken a terrible shot, perhaps illegally (no hunting is allowed on city land), and then shamefully abandoned the deer.
And I was proud that I was able to humanely put the deer down, and able to walk home with the meat.
The epilogue: Illegal hunting
|The second to last column on the right shows the total|
number of readers for a typical set of posts
The family blog technically has been open for anyone to read, but nobody knows about it--only very rarely has it been read by anyone other than our immediate family.
|"Another Trail Running Event" was read a lot!|
[I have now changed the settings on the family blog to make it private. The practical effect of this is that when I want to share a blog post with a relative or a friend, I now need to remember to specifically give them permission.]
Who is reading our personal family blog?
The answer came on January 6th, when I received a phone call from Officer Wojcik of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Law Enforcement Division. He gently asked me about the illegal hunting that I did on Higby Mountain. I confessed. Wojcik told me that he had seen the story "on facebook", and that he knew I was trying to do the right thing for the deer. However, he would have to give me a warning. [I never posted any information or links on Facebook, Wojcik's detailed knowledge of the event could only have come from my family blog post].
On January 9th I drove to Marlborough to meet with Officer Wojcik. I asked an officer there if I could get a copy of the investigative report, but it seems that there was not much to be had. I asked if the state had an automatic internet surfing program that would highlight possible mentions of illegal hunting. He laughed and said "no".
Wojcik was following up on an anonymous tip.
I left the office with a copy of the warning, and having learned two things. Neither might be particularly novel, but here they are.
First, I broke the law. It is illegal to be in possession of a dead deer unless you have a permit. The legal way to humanely put down and then butcher an injured deer is to obtain a special permit from the local police. I should have called the Middletown Police, waited for them to arrive in the forest, and then proceeded with the killing and butchering. It seems cruel to prolong the suffering of the animal, and a particularly senseless waste of police time, but the rule is there to prevent illegal hunting.
Second, there is one pathetic anonymous who reads the Devoto Family blog. When I got off the phone after being summoned to Marlborough for a warning, I laughed out loud. REALLY!? SERIOUSLY?! I was giggling at the thought that someone had read my insignificant family blog post and turned me in for illegal hunting in this circumstance. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING! But it was true. I hope the knowledge that I had to drive to Marlborough to be served with a warning for illegal hunting has enriched this pathetic's life.
I posted a follow-up blog post about the illegal deer hunting warning on Monday, including in the post the photo of the warning, and the readership numbers for the articles on our family blog. The Middletown Press phoned me on Tuesday. Gecan did not (and should not) tell me how or when he learned about the family blog. Could it have been anonymous?
I am flattered that anonymous thinks my life is so important that he monitors the family blog on such a regular basis. If he sends me his email address, I'll give him continued access.