Born in the Panama Canal Zone 79 years ago, Mr. Zidbeck came to California in 1944 with his mother and three siblings. He enlisted in the US Army after graduating from high school. Honorably discharged in 1952, he attended college under the G.I. Bill. After graduating from UCLA in 1958, he worked as a probation officer in LA County. Mr. Zidbeck, married for 54 years, has lived in San Luis Obispo County since retiring in 1985.
In addition to penning observations and reflections since living in San Luis Obispo County, George has authored six volumes of a family saga that addresses the negative influence of alcohol on a family from the perspective of the mother (two volumes); the father (three volumes); and the first born son. Anyone interested in contacting the author, may write George Zidbeck.
Rochester, George's Good Buddy
A Traumatized Yearling Deer
by George Zidbeck
Weather seldom deters me from my appointed morning rounds amidst the squiredom. Thus, with Cup o' Joe in hand about four years ago, I headed down the blacktop from La Casita. Just before crossing the bottom swale, I spotted a young doe twenty yards distant. Although without spots, it had not yet matured into its full weight and height. In that the young animal seemed comfortably bedded down under a wooden bridge, I thought nothing of the matter.
Finishing my stroll and heading back toward the house, I noted the young deer had not moved nor taken any notice of me. I cautiously approached the location. The deer did not seem alarmed until I got within ten feet. It then arose, but moved away with difficulty. Lacking balance, the animal soon fell to the ground.
At that point, I heard my lower neighbor, Richard Smith, holler at me from his southern facing deck, "Hey, George; wait there." He soon reached me and explained, "Early this morning, barely light outside, I heard a racket like someone screaming and thrashing about. I should've called the police, but I took a pistol and went outside. Close to where you were standing just before the deer moved, I saw something streaking up the eastern slope. I couldn't make out what it was. But I felt it was a mountain lion. The deer seemed okay; so I went back inside. Then later, when it got light, I stepped out to see how the deer was doing, and that's when I spotted you. What do you think?"
"I don't know. I don't see any blood, but the deer sure can't get around too well. I guess, now that it's daylight we can just keep our eyes on it and see what happens."
Richard and I thus returned to our respective homes. Every half hour I surveyed the spot and found the deer alive but showing no willingness to stand. Close to noon, I checked with my neighbor and he agreed we should call some wildlife authority. Well and good, except the phone book did not list a convenient resource for such an animal problem.
I'll not plague you with my following false leads. In time, I reached a lady out toward Lake Nacimiento who provided a wildlife rescue service. She drove to my place in her pickup and soon had a hypodermic filled with a tranquilizer. Richard and I assisted her in throwing a blanket over the yearling and holding the young deer still so she could administer the shot.
With the animal tranquilized, we examined her for any wounds or injuries. At the rear base of the skull we observed an area of dried saliva and two small puncture spots, but no blood sign. Nor did the rest of the body show any sign of injury. Likely, Richard's early morning investigation stalled any death blow from some unknown predator.
The woman asked us to carry the animal from swale to road about forty feet up the slope. After placing the yearling onto the pickup bed, I asked her, "Could it have been a mountain lion?"
"I think it was a bobcat," she replied.
"Really? I didn't think a bobcat could bring down a deer."
She nodded her head affirmatively, and then explained, "Maybe not a full grown, healthy one, but a young or wounded animal, yes." Shortly thereafter she headed for her home.
The next day, I phoned the lady and she informed that the young deer didn't make it through the night. Whether mountain lion or bobcat, the predator had followed his natural instinct with native prey. Therefore, neither Richard nor I felt the need to call in Fish and Game for a search and destroy mission. With wildlife, que será será.