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Deer drew support of many

February 20, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

Move over, Bambi.

Bucky the deer stole the hearts of people throughout the Tri-State area and as far away as Oklahoma and North Carolina and became a national news story.

Following initial reports in The Morning Herald about the deer and the airing of the story on the "Today" show, Herald-Mail staffers were swamped Thursday with phone calls. Media from outside the area descended on the Antietam Drive home of Kevin and Starla Hall.

The Halls took Bucky in Sunday when they found him wandering in the road near their home and had been trying to find a safe place for him since. Department of Natural Resources officials said they wanted to euthanize the deer and test it for disease.

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On Thursday, Kevin Hall helped release Bucky at the Potomac Fish & Game Club near Williamsport.

Callers to The Herald-Mail expressed outrage over the DNR decision to assume custody and destroy the deer.

Gayle Parker, 50, called from her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., after logging onto The Herald-Mail Web site following Bucky's appearance on a Thursday morning segment of the "Today" show.

Parker said Kevin Hall told "Today" co-anchor Katie Couric that he'd go to jail before releasing Bucky to DNR officials.

"I wanted to call to offer my support to Mr. Hall, and opposition to the deer being killed," said Parker, who said she would take Bucky if she could.

"I'm no crazy animal rights activist, but it's so inhumane," she said.

Sharon Conway of Moore, Okla., also phoned the newspaper following Bucky's "Today" show appearance. She said she was so upset she phoned Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich's office to request that Bucky - given the name by the Halls - "be spared and his name should be Liberty," Conway said. She said she also called the Maryland DNR to complain.

"I don't believe in seeing something hurt for no reason," she said.

Like Conway, Ray Linebaugh, 62, of Hagerstown, said he called the DNR to question and criticize the agency's policy.

"If you're put in charge of protecting animals, that's what you ought to be doing," said Linebaugh, who offered to pay Bucky's medical expenses.

Closer to the scene of the unfolding drama, Olga Amatucci on Thursday afternoon perched on a concrete block outside Godlove's Liquors across the street from the Hall home, and waited patiently for news of whether Bucky would be safe.

After grabbing some cheese crackers to tide her over while she waited, Amatucci, 55, said, "I saw the 'Today' show and saw the report of Bucky and I thought 'Oh, my God, it did happen; they're gonna do something horrid to this deer.'"

She said she lives four minutes from the Halls and thought it was ironic that Hagerstown was being made famous by Bucky.

"I think we should all strive from this point forward to make Hagerstown famous for things like this," she said. "Bucky the deer, that's a news story in and of itself."

A news station helicopter circled over the Hall's residence for much of the morning and news crews from Baltimore camped out in their cars at the liquor store parking lot.

In Williamsport, Tammy Young, 41, with Bowman Sales and Equipment, said her family has 75 acres that would make a perfect home for Bucky.

"We have deer in our back yard that come within 20 to 30 feet of us. We have a deer family that hangs out around my house," said Young, who said she believes Bucky could join the deer family and live happily ever after.

If Bucky were interested in a mountainous area, Barry Verdier, 54 , of Smithburg, said the deer would have plenty of room to roam on his 11 acres near South Mountain.

"When the paper said he was friendly, I thought he'd be the one to have," said Verdier, who said he didn't understand the DNR's decision to destroy Bucky, especially if it should turn out the deer is healthy.

Staff writers Pepper Ballard and Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

What are your thoughts on the "Bucky story"? Discuss them in our Bucky forum!

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