America's deer came up losers again this year on opening day of
hunting season, getting trounced 11,476 to 1. The lone victory
for the deer came outside Stump, Ohio, when a 33-year-old
accountant was accidentally shot 17 times by his friends despite
wearing an orange hat, vest, pants and boots plus a sandwich
board that read, IT'S ME, STAN.

Joining us now to discuss the defeat, general manager and coach
of the deer, John Doe. Coach, welcome.

Good to be here. Hell, it's good to be anywhere. I could be
sitting on a plate next to a vegetable medley.

What frustrates you the most about your squad's performance in
the season opener?

Well, we can't keep losing at home like this. Something's gotta
change. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure we're competing on a
level playing field anymore. We're gonna bring it up at the
league meetings in Palm Springs this winter.

What will you ask for?

We've gotta have some help from the competition committee. I
mean, we've got some good speed, but we don't have anybody that
can outrun an Ultra Light Arms rifle with a 20X scope and
24-inch stainless-steel barrel, you know what I'm sayin'? Plus
these hunters keep coming at us with more and more stuff.
They've got solunar tables and laser sights and night goggles.
We don't even have decent teeth! Put it this way: My grandpa
didn't have to dodge a bunch of yahoos riding a damn
six-passenger ATV and using a Global Positioning Satellite.

But this was such a lopsided loss, Coach. Is it purely a
question of technology?

Well, they're fightin' dirty now. Used to be, we could sniff 'em
out before they could get close enough to sever our family ties.
But now hunters are taking chlorophyll pills that mask the human
scent. They're using spray scent shields. Some guys are bathing
with baking soda. Others are burying their clothes for a month
in the backyard before they go hunting. I mean, get a life, huh?
Hell, I read about hunters who douse themselves with powerful
"deer attractant." You know what that is? Deer urine! Now what
are we supposed to wear on dates?

Cruel.

Tell me about it. You know, I hear all these guys talking about
the "sport" of hunting. I heard a guy say he never apologizes
after he fills one of my guys with a bucketful of lead, but he
always remembers to "thank the deer for the contest." Wait a
minute. What contest? This ain't a contest anymore than the
Exxon Valdez versus shrimp was a contest. Hey, you hunters want
a contest? Hunt us with spears or knives. Hell, we'll give you
rocks, too! I'd love to see one of these Stay Puft marshmallow
men comin' at me with a Ginsu in each hand. My old lady would be
cookin' humanburgers for a month!

Coach, there have been rumblings in your locker room about
needing a change of leadership. What's your reaction to that?

Look, I'm not trying to pass the buck, but I can't think for our
guys. Hunters are out there trying to pattern us--you know,
keeping notes on where we hang out, where we eat, where we like
to rub the old forehead now and again--and our guys are lettin'
'em do it! A lot of our guys are in a rut. What we need to do is
pattern them. You know, follow a guy around. Where does he play
golf? Where does he work out? Where does he stop off on the way
home from work? Surprise one of these sonsabitches outside the
old corner tavern with a 12-pointer right in the keister, the
rest of 'em will think twice about coming into our backyard,
I'll guarantee you that!

Any chance for a comeback?

We're not totally out of it yet. It's a long season. I'll tell
you something, though. It would help our morale a damn sight if
you guys would cut us a break once in a while.

Who?

The media. Do you know how depressing it is to pick up Field &
Stream and read about hunting "success rates"? I mean, success
is kind of a sticky word, ain't it? And talking about the deer
"harvest"? Harvest? Hey, I know lots of farmers, and I ain't
seen one of 'em yet use a gross of .280 shells to bring in the
corn, you with me?

All right then, we'll close on a high note. How about that lone
opening day win? Is there at least some satisfaction in that?

Well, it was kinda lucky. But ol' Stan'll look good over the
fireplace at the union hall, won't he?

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA

"Deer hunting ain't a contest anymore than the Exxon Valdez
versus shrimp was a contest."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)