A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 30, 2008
Rats With Antlers (deer nickname)

Texas has a large deer population. Many Texans view deer as a nuisance, calling them “rats with antlers.” John McPhee of The New Yorker wrote an essay for the November 25, 1984 issue, calling deer “rats with antlers, roaches with split hooves.” McPhee probably coined the term.

The similar “rats with wings” (pigeons) has been used in New York City since the 1960s.


Wikipedia: John McPhee
John Angus McPhee (born March 8, 1931) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer widely considered one of the pioneers of narrative nonfiction. Like Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson, he helped kick-start the “new journalism” which, in the 1960s, revolutionized nonfiction by incorporating techniques from novels and other forms of fiction. McPhee avoided the attention-grabbing streams of consciousness of Wolfe and Thompson, but his detailed description of characters, insatiable appetite for details, and masterful style make his writing lively, readable, and personal, even when it focuses on obscure or difficult topics. 

8 November 1992, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “TWPD has options for bumped hunters” by Mike Leggett, pg. C15:
“Right now the deer are like big rats with antlers, and they’re damaging some of those plant species.”

14 August 1994, Washington (DC) Post, “Hunting for Country Vote: North Stumping Hard in Rural Virginia” by Kent Jenkins Jr., pg. B1:
North argued that hunting prevents wildlife overpopulation and quipped that “we’ve got so many deer in Virginia, they’re like rats with antlers.”

Google Books
The Maine Reader: The Down East Experience from 1614 to the Present
By Charles Shain, Samuella Shain
Published by David R. Godine Publisher
1997
Pg. 500:
I will believe anything about deer. Deer, in my opinion, are rats with antlers, roaches with split hooves, denizens of the dark primeval suburbs. Deer intensely suggest New Jersey. One of the densest concentrations of wild deer in the United States inhabits the part of New Jersey that, as it happens, I inhabit, too.
(From “North of the C. P. Line” by John McPhee, published in The New Yorker, 25 November 1984—ed.)

New York (NY) Times
November 30, 1997
The Deerslayers
A hunter examines the role of deer in modern ecology.

By ROBERT FINCH
John McPhee called them ‘’rats with antlers, roaches with split hooves.’’ Stephen Vincent Benet saw ‘’all lost, wild America . . . burning in their eyes.’’ Aldo Leopold thought of them as ‘’our meat from God.’’ Few, if any, wild animals have prompted so vast a range of attitudes among Americans as have deer. Wolves, eagles and bears may touch our imaginations, but deer touch our hearts. More than that, most of us have had some direct encounter with deer, if only to have caught a glimpse of their phantasmal forms disappearing into the roadside brush at dusk. A good proportion of us have had more direct, and not always positive, encounters with them—in our gardens, in our crop fields, on our highways and even on our jet runways.

Google Groups: alt.peeves
Newsgroups: alt.peeves
From: (Elaine Richards)
Date: 2000/06/07
Subject: Rats With Antlers?

Many folks refer to deer as rats with antlers and so on, but there’s one deer who is quite hygienic. 

Google Groups: alt.slack
Newsgroups: alt.slack
From: “Alliekatt”
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 17:09:04 GMT
Local: Tues, Dec 18 2001 11:09 am
Subject: Re: Tiny Texan Deer

Well, you’d feel differently if they were rats with antlers stomping down over 50% of your feed corn before harvest.

Access My Library
Deer are increasingly viewed as public nuisance, ‘rats with antlers’
Byline: Todd J. Gillman
Source: The Dallas Morning News (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service)
Publication Date: 22-MAY-02
PRINCETON, N.J. _ The tufts of fur are a dead giveaway down at Gino’s Auto Body Shop. Every fall, 75 to 100 cars _ a quarter of Gino’s business _ show up with bashed fenders, dented hoods and enough deer residue to turn a detailer’s stomach.

“There’s always someone coming in,” said damage estimator Rich Matticoli, who hit a deer a few years ago but got away with just a broken headlight. “There’s a lot of development, a lot more cars, and there’s a whole lot more deer out there.”

Deer are overrunning much of America, and this quaint university town is on the front lines. The local herd has exploded so dramatically that Princeton has paid sharpshooters and trappers $200,000 to kill more than 600 deer in the last two years.

The meat goes to food banks, but that doesn’t placate animal-rights advocates. Calling the hunt cruel and unnecessary, they have staged protests, filed lawsuits and put out feed so the deer won’t take the hunters’ bait.

Similar battles have been waged from Michigan to the Carolinas to the Texas Hill Country. In most of the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest, hunting trends, suburbanization and poor wildlife management have made deer so plentiful that they have turned from symbols of a pastoral landscape into shrubbery-chomping, brake-slamming annoyances.

“They’ve really become like a pest,” said Phyllis Marchand, mayor of Princeton Township, where road crews scraped up 338 dead deer in the year before the hunts began. “People in our town call them rats with antlers.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 30, 2008 • Permalink