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About Utah: A naive doe nearly enters the lions’ den — Cabela’s

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LEHI — The deer had that deer-in-the-headlights look as my car approached with the high beams on.

She was a medium-size doe, out for an early evening stroll. But her choice of route — the frontage road on the east side of the I-15 freeway near the Point of the Mountain — was questionable at best. Mere yards away, separated by a barbed-wire fence, hundreds of cars and trucks whizzed by at rush-hour pace.

Understandably spooked, the deer turned on its white tail and bounded through the open field toward the south, where off in the distance stood a massive building bathed in spotlights.

The deer obviously had no idea where it was headed.

Imagine Superman nearing Kryptonite; imagine George W. Bush on the steps of Baghdad; imagine BYU playing in a bowl game.

The building: Cabela's, the outdoor gear retailer that bills itself as the "world's foremost outfitter" — 173,000 square feet dedicated to that deer's utter destruction.

Wal-Mart for killers.

Heaven help her if she saw the room they call "Big Game Country."

"Big Game Country" is an area located just beyond Cabela's formidable gun department and features dozens of trophy animals standing in natural-like settings of trees, rocks and dirt. The only difference between this and real life is that the animals — from black bear to moose to bob cat to red fox to all sorts of deer — are all dead.

Small plaques describe what the animals are and where they are from.

For example, one plaque reads: "Nevada State Record Mule Deer, Taken by Clifton Fauria, 1955, Nye County, Nevada."

"Taken" as opposed to "shot."

Cabela's is brimming with anything and everything needed to take animals. A hunt waiting to happen. Walk in there and you're just glad you're a human.

There's enough camouflage to disguise all of Lehi. Enough guns to declare the 2nd Amendment safe and sound forever. Enough decoys and calls to attract every bird in Mexico.

All you can do is gaze in awe at all the huntin' and fishin' toys and think: Hey, somebody ain't workin'.

My visit to Cabela's left me with one enduring thought: Fish are the lucky ones.

In sharp contrast to Big Game Country is Cabela's 45,000-gallon aquarium located on the opposite side of the store. In the aquarium are all the sorts of fish one can expect to find in Utah's waters, including brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, catfish, perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass and crappie.

The difference is that the fish, as opposed to the trophies in Big Game Country and the other stuffed animals spread around Cabela's (including the various species on so-called "Conservation Mountain"), are all alive.

Captive, it's true, but very well fed.

So there it is. If you're going to come to Earth and not as a homo sapien, learn how to swim and get by without oxygen.

Even if you're caught, there's a good chance you'll get unhooked.

But nobody throws deer back.

Which is why I was hoping that doe I saw on the frontage road didn't make it all the way to Cabela's front door. Not that it would have been taken then and there — no sport in that. It would have been shooed back to the hills and encouraged to eat, drink and be merry until the next deer hunt.

But the psychological trauma. Man, that would be hard to live with.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.