"Over Coffee"

The beautiful little fawn exhibit is now happily ensconced at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center in Buford.

December 12, 2012


   It was a hot summer Saturday last August when I donned my Wellingtons, grabbed a walking stick, and Toby and I went over the creek to take a hike in the long and sparsely wooded stormwater easement behind our house in Peachtree Corners. Toby is our rescue Vizsla, with yellow Labrador trim.  He’s a gorgeous high energy boy that loves to run off-leash in the woods.  We often flush a few of our deer friends that have come down the creek from the Simpsonwood Forest.  They have all grown used to Toby running with them by now.  Some run ahead of Toby, some beside him, and some behind; it is quite a sight to see when that happens. Toby will have a short burst run with the deer and then return to me. The only time we relinquish the field is when we see the big antlered buck, the master of the forest.  If we sight him, which isn’t often, we immediately know we had better head for home! Both Toby and I are of one mind about this. Funny about that.

   On this day, unbeknownst to us, two little twin fawns had wandered through our open back gate while we were gone and were exploring our natural wooded back yard.  They spooked when Toby and I returned. To our amazement, one galloped at light speed right past us back out of the open gate, but the other fawn tried to get through the split-rail fence, not seeing the hog-wire that was attached behind it.  This little fawn got tangled up behind the split rail and in its frantic gyrations, broke its neck.  All of this action took about three incredible seconds!

   My husband helped me carry the little body to some soft grass outside the fence. I thought nature would take care of this, but when we checked early the next morning, nothing had disturbed the little fawn. My husband carried it to our biggest Coleman cooler and we iced it down. Ron’s thought was to find a taxidermist so we might preserve this little creature for others to see so that it would not have died in vain.

   Thanks to the recommendation from our hunter son in North Carolina, we brought the fawn in the cooler to Beth Johnson at Feather, Fin, and Fur Taxidermy Studio in Loganville, Georgia. We were in time to save the pelt and almost four months later, we had a beautiful exhibit. Beth is truly an artist!

   The folks at Bass Pro told us that intact fawns are hard to come by because when they perish in the wild, they are usually eaten.  If you haven’t been to a Bass Pro retail establishment, they have a lot of taxidermy on display.  The decision trail there, however, was much too bumpy for us. After further thought, we decided a nonprofit was really the best solution after all, so this non-starter with Bass Pro really worked out for the best.

  We thought about the Chattahoochee Nature Center, but discovered that those folks have no interest in establishing a taxidermy collection.  It seems like somebody could have told us that over the telephone and saved us a trip, but they didn’t.

   Gwinnett Commissioner Lynette Howard suggested the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center in Buford and that is where we were able to donate our little fawn.  We literally dropped in on the executive director, Steve Cannon, who graciously welcomed us. He immediately knew where this fawn could go. His curator placed the fawn in one of their own superb exhibits of native Indians.  The life-sized Indians and their canoe are stylized in white and, of course, our little fawn is in full color. It looks like the fawn just climbed into the exhibit and got comfortable!  The children will love it and I cannot stop smiling.


   It’s nice to have the “expresso” coffee pot plugged back in and pouring “Over Coffee” again. It is getting to be a pretty old column by now. I began it here in 1996 in “The Weekly,” but it belonged to Pulitzer Prize winner John R.Harrison before that. Jack was a New York Times executive who ran his “Over Coffee” in the Lakeland Ledger. When I asked him if I could have “Over Coffee” after he had retired it, he gave me his permission.

   So, hope all is well and thanks for joining me.



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Cathy Freeman December 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Good to see you back! I guess I've been reading your column since the beginning.
Gay Shook December 13, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Thank you so much, Cathy! When I got busier in other areas and my writing time was effectively eclipsed, I figured any readers I might once have had might be difficult to get back. Hope I won't disappoint you!


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