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MARTHA SEZ: Why do deer do that? Leave just one tulip?

September 13, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

The buck is back. That's what the Hartford Insurance Company is saying about the recent appearance of a large antlered talking stag in their television ads.

The buck is back? Who knew he ever left? Here in the Adirondacks, where everyone I know who operates a motorized vehicle has struck, or been struck by, at least one deer, people don't consider seeing a buck that much of a novelty.

"No," my old friend Biff mused when I asked him about it, "during hunting season-that's when seeing a buck is a novelty." Biff then went on to recount several interesting hunting stories.

I shook my head. No one knows where they disappear to during hunting season. Other than that, though, deer are not exactly known for their high intelligence quotients.

While suburbs as well as rural areas all over the United States are literally overrun by deer, these ads, made by the agency Terri & Sandy, are apparently created by people who have no personal knowledge of deer at all. The insurance company's so-called iconic symbol, the Hartford Buck, as portrayed in the ad, is a wise old fellow with some pretty darn insightful views on small business.

We see him standing around outside a bakery spying on Bridget, the baker, whom he describes as an artist, "a Monet of muffins, a Cezanne of scones, a Leonardo of layer cakes."

"I am the Hartford buck," he declares, "and I see nothing small about small business."

At this point, the Hartford logo comes on the screen, and now Old Buck is off camera, free to eat the tulips in a large sidewalk planter nearby. He devours all but one flower before sauntering away. Why do deer do that? Leave just one tulip?

Next time our normal programing is interrupted we see Old Buck, standing, again, on a city street, stalking a barber named Hugo, or, as Old Buck likes to think of him, "a wizard of whiskers ... a Houdini of hair."

Yes, Old Buck is on a city street, where he is going to make anyone who knows anything about deer feel nervous.

Adirondack viewers, who may be doing something else and not even actually watching the ad, won't realize where that anxiety, that vague sense of unease is coming from. Subconsciously, they know that Old Buck ist getting ready to dart out into oncoming traffic, causing horrible accidents.

According to Terri Meyer, CEO of Terri & Sandy, "It was time to bring the Buck into the spotlight, give him a personality and tell the story of The Hartford's mission from his perspective."

I just don't think that this is going to work around here. I don't think their message will resonate in the Adirondacks.

The Old Buck was not originally modeled on a white-tailed deer, or on any American deer at all. He became part of the Hartford logo back in the 1860s, his image based on the red deer in Sir Edwin Landseer's popular 1851 oil painting, "The Monarch of the Glen," a majestic Scottish stag. A hart is a male red deer, usually 5 years old or older. A hind is a female red deer, usually 2 years old or older, although no one seems to use that term in advertising. What about, "Go with the Hindermost?" Never mind.

I read that the Old Buck was created with computer imaging. Really?

Because did I mention that Old Buck looks like taxidermy on wheels? Those of us who inhabit the North Country are familiar with taxidermy. With the exception of a few people who occasionally shoot at decoy deer cleverly placed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for purposes of entrapment, few Adirondackers are fooled into believing that taxidermy or decoy deer are the real thing, even when they are on wheels.

In the British Isles, a stag with 16 or more tines, or points, is a monarch. A stag with 14 points is imperial, and, if it has 12 points, it's royal. According to these rules, "The Monarch of the Glen" is not truly a monarch at all, but a royal.

A point doesn't count unless it's big enough to put a wedding ring on it. The first set of antlers are called prickets, and stags with no antlers are called hummels.

October to January is rutting season for deer, and don't forget hunting season. Maybe pretty soon the Old Buck will be making himself scarce.

Have a good week.



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