Locked Horns

Author Name: 

“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Php 2:2-3).

The mount of two deerleft a distinct impression on mymind. It was well done, but the little plaque below told the tale. It explained that these two buck deer were mounted in the way that they were found. Even though it was obvious that in life, these were two fine buck deer, theyhad been found... dead. They died because their horns were locked together. The locking of horns was the beginning of and the reason for the end. Then, my imagination began to fill in the horrible details.

There is a reason why buck horns get locked; it originates in the nature of the deer. By instinct, deerwith horns use their horns to establish their territory. In the mating season, a natural competition is aroused. It is extremely important to bucks to establish their territory and to stand their ground. What they believe is theirs to control, they seek to control at all cost.

In their zeal to do what they are convinced they are created to do, a buck deer often finds himself in direct competition with another buck with exactly the same belief system. In their zest to be true to what they know they should do, conflict and confrontation seem not only sensible, but essential. The threatening competitor must be gotten out of the way.

The only waythat a buck knows how to remove another off its territoryis to use the horns that he has, to aggressivelydeal with this threatening and improper situation. Since the other buck is of the same mind, a tussle begins. At first the tussle starts with firm parrying and thrusting. It does not need to take a lot of energy to deal with this situation. The other deer must simply understand that what he is doing is not welcome and will not be tolerated. The message is clear: “leave!”

Very quickly however, the fight usuallyescalates. If the deer are evenlymatched, the fight can go on for hours. Again and again, each attacks, looking for the advantage, looking for a crack in the armor. I’ve been told that when elk or moose with their large racks hold such a confrontation, the crashing sound can travel a surprising distance. These are no small stakes here; for, the winner will be boss. Each considers himself the more qualified to have the upper hand. Again and again, the foes back off and attack yet again. The struggle intensifies. Stories aretold of these animals engaging till one is wounded to the point of death. But then there is this other possibility; sometimes when the fight is hot, it will suddenly stop. By curious means, a clash of horns comes together in such a manner that they will not come apart. The horns are locked. When horns lock, the focus changes. Suddenly, the struggle is to get away from each other. Each deer earnestly strives to get away from the other, but the struggle is vain for their horns are locked. Unless some intercessor comes along, the animals will stay locked. They will stay locked till one or both cannot struggle. They will stay locked until one of them dies. Then the other one will staylocked to the dead one till he dies. When horns are locked, there is nothing that either of them can do; therefore, they will die.

Occasionally, a hunter, a hiker, or a wildlife officer will happen upon them. Do the deer ask for help? Do theymake themselves availablefor help?Here is an interestingthing; apparentlydeerwith locked horns can not see help when it walks up to them. I am told that when people tryto intervene in this pathetic situation, it is very difficult. The deer act like they do not want help. As the rescuer approaches, he may have to watch out for flying hooves and whirling antlers. What the deer really need to do is calm down and give the helpers a chance to help. But it seems to be outside of the realm of possibilityfor deerto stop and simplygive help a chance. Perhaps it is because the deer are unconvinced that the helper really wants to help. Perhaps the deer do not trust the help. Perhaps they do not recognize help when it is standing right in front of them. Poor deer.

In this situation, there is only one thing left to do. If the helper is so equipped, he can shoot the deer with a tranquilizer. If he is not, then he must come back when the deer are too tuckered out to resist help. There are no other options other than killing the deer to protect them from the slow death which is already on its way. When a helper wants to separate deer with locked horns it is often more difficult than a special twitch that the two deer have not tried. Sometimes a hacksaw is about the only hope. Gone will be the glorious, essential, and God-given rack. But the deer will live. Is that not better than the slow death?

As I think about the deer, I ask this question: do people ever lock horns? Do people ever have turf which they are convinced needs to be protected? Do they meet people on that turf who feel the same way about the same turf? Do they ever use their horns to protect their turf?

When people engage in a tussle for turf, does anyone ever get run off? Does anyone ever get hurt; till one dies? Is the crash of antlers ever heard from a surprising distance away? Do horns ever get locked? When horns are locked, do they ever stay locked till both are dead?

Does anyone ever show up to help the “locked horns?” When someone tries to help, have they ever gotten hurt by the constant thrashing and flying hooves? Does anyone ever need to be “tranquilized”, so that they can receive the help that is standing right in front of them?

Can deer go on to live normal lives if their horns are unlocked? Can people? Nature is not the Bible for the Christian, but sometimes in mysteries of creation a lesson can be learned that is profitable for application.

Let us pray that our vanity or zeal for our territory will never cause us to clash or lock horns. Deer have a hard time recognizing the seriousness of locked horns till it is too late. People are much the same way. They can have just as much difficulty seeing that clashing for turf can lead to slow death. But a humble man can see.

When our “horns lock” may we be wiser than deer. Let us keep our eyes and hearts open for when our only salvation maybe standing in front of us. let us not send our helpers running from our flying hooves.

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (Jas 3:14-18).
~Myerstown, PA July 2010