Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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February 6, 2012

Gander Mountain now home to small deer population

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CORSICANA - When Gander Mountain opened in August of 2004, it did so with an outdoor ATV track, giving potential buyers an avenue, of sorts, to test models out. The last several years, that patch of grass has been barren.

Not anymore.

A few months ago, Store Manager Randy Smiley brought in six deer, including a buck, who now call the sprawling of prime retail area home.

“The whole deal was, we’ve got this high-fence area, we’re paying someone to mow it, and we never used it,” Smiley said. “It was, ‘What can we do with the lot?’”

Wildlife became the answer.

At first, Smiley said, the plan was to bring in petting zoo-type deer, something customers could see some actual, tangible benefit from. The customers could feed the deer, pet them, go home and tell stories.

But there were concerns, Smiley said. He wasn’t sure the employees could manage all of the feedings, and he didn’t want sick deer.

So, they brought in livestock from Designer Deer Farm, Assistant Manager Brenda Horn said.

“They’re not tame enough for customers to get close to,” said Horn, who often feeds them and does get within a few feet of them from time to time. “But, (customers) are welcome to look at them.”

Just not from the fenced-in area.

Gander Mountain officials hope there might be fawn in their future.

“We’re going to bottle feed if there is,” Horn said.

The move to make the unused part of the store a home for the deer was cleared with the city, Smiley said. Essentially, it’s considered a zoo in a retail area.

It’s simply a one-breed zoo.

“It’s something unique,” Smiley said. “It’s something some people in Corsicana have never seen.

“There’s really no rhyme or reason to it.”

But the response so far has been positive, he said.

    —————

Raymond Linex II may be reached by email at rlinex@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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