One of my great joys collecting postcards is realizing how many strange collecting categories it is possible to come up with. I have to admit that I never specifically looked or asked dealers for postcards of deer behaving like hunters! But, over the years I have bought all sorts of odd and interesting postcards from categories like linens, chromes, comics, real photos, exaggerations, advertising and more. Then, after years of collecting and sorting and filing and searching through these cards that have individually attracted me, I might notice a common theme popping up here and there. And before you know it, I have yet another strange collection of postcards.
When we moved to the rural suburbs from New York City 23 years ago I sympathized somewhat with the deer during the hunting season. In those days there were even local groups that protested the hunt. Now, however, in my part of northern New Jersey white-tailed deer are ubiquitous. We need a 7-foot fence to keep them out of our vegetable garden, and they have destroyed countless shrubs and flowers. Although we live in the center of a small town surrounded by many wooded areas the combination of rural-suburban (I refer to our area as the ìruburbsî) development and the lack of natural predators have enabled the deer population to explode. Their main predator now is the automobile and a deer carcass on the side of the road is a routine sight around here. These collisions have not only been fatal for the deer, but for some humans, too. Now we have an annual controlled hunt in our town to thin out the herds, and I root for the hunters.
The cards shown here were produced from about 1940 to the 1970ís. The subject of most of them is one or more deer driving a car with their human prey attached to the fender, but a few cover other episodes of the hunting experience. The deer waking up in a hunterís cabin certainly would start off the day. And the deer proudly posing with the dayís bounty hanging from a rack might end the day. Ultimately we have the deer relaxing in his cabin with the heads of two of his quarry proudly mounted on the wall!
At first glance one might think these are postcards made for people who arenít keen on hunting, but on the contrary I think what they really show is that hunters have a sense of humor. One is even an advertising card for Bennett’s Gun Shop, while most of the others are published in areas that are well known for deer hunting, particularly Pennsylvania.
The comic postcard by the artist Fox even has an amusing limerick to this effect:
There was a guy from PA.
Went hunting one autumn day.
He came back from the trip
When his gun made a "slip"
And the buck drove him home so they say!
Postcard publishers have historically been notorious copycats, if not downright pirates, in appropriating images and ideas in all categories of postcards from greetings to views to topics. Here it seems pretty obvious that some of these cards are far from original in concept. Note that three of the cards feature a cigar-puffing deer driving a yellow convertible with tongue-dangling human quarry roped to the front fenders. Coincidence? Not likely!
These cards hardly rank with the finest of postcards, but shown together as a group they are a good example of just how quirky and fun postcard collecting can be.
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