Its amazing how many people still live in fear of Deerman. We even
heard from a Kewanee serviceman stationed in South Korea who fears the
mysterious creature might track him down.
A week ago the column
was devoted to recalling the legend of the half-man, half-deer who
supposedly lurked in the woods north of Kewanee.
responding to a request from Neponset seventh grader Gus Block who
asked the newspaper to uncover the truth in an unbiased fashion. Gus
had heard some pretty tall tales about this Deerman from his parents
and other old people and wondered if his leg was being pulled. We have
since learned Gus overheard the adult Sunday School class at the Church
of Peace reminiscing about stories of Deerman one Sunday morning and
his curiosity was piqued so he penned a letter to the paper.
As we explained last week to Gus and the rest of our readers, the
legend of Deerman began in the early 1960s in a column in this
newspaper called Mostly Malarkey, written by editor and publisher
For several years the rumors of sightings and
encounters circulated and Deerman was here! could be found scrawled
on road signs, barns and walls throughout the Kewanee area.
Our responses revealed some of the dangers associated with Deerman, two actual sightings. and where he came from.
Our first response came from Kewanee native Kevin Jones, now a
professor at a university in Sacramento, Calif. As a fellow old guy,
I can attest that I saw Deerman, Jones admits. According to the
legend, he recalls, if you saw Deerman three times, you died. Jones
said he saw Deerman twice and caught him with a sidelong glance the
third time, narrowly avoiding the third and fatal sighting. This is
why I can never come back to Kewanee. If I see him a third time, Im
dead, Jones revealed.
As I recall, he walked upright, like a
faun from Greek mythology, mostly anthropomorphic upper body and head
with deer-like antlers, not unlike some of the paintings on the walls
of caves in times even more prehistoric than ours, our eyewitness
Gus, you might want to look up anthropomorphic.
Where did Kevin see Deerman? Twice in the old cemetery behind
Kewanee High School (Pleasant View). Jones had what he now describes
as a less than stellar high school wrestling career in which he once
managed to get pinned with absolutely no time elapsed in the first
period. Coach Ken Sullens, strangely proud, told me that it was a
record that could be equalled, but never broken. So, to avoid getting
beaten up for two hours every afternoon, Jones would tell the coach he
was going out to do road work and while so engaged, spotted Deerman
twice. The sidelong glance? He was coming out of an outhouse.
Fastidious, these local legends, said Jones.
Dr. C. L. Cunningham told how years ago he and fellow Boy Scout leader
Jim Stringer took the troop camping at Giant Goose Conservation Area
and one night told them the legend of Deerman who, he claims, had a red
eye that people spotted in the dark. As the tale grew scarier, Stringer
slipped away into the nearby woods with a red flashlight and started
blinking it at the Scouts who became even more terrified. Cunningham
said his son, Jon, one of the boys in the group, is now a Scout leader
himself in Batavia, and shares the Deerman story with wide-eyed boys
around the campfire. Doc sent a copy of last weeks Deerman column to
Jon who is sharing the origin of Deerman with another generation of
Our third response was an e-mail that began with
Greetings from South Korea! A Kewanee serviceman who asked to remain
anonymous for his own safety read the Deerman column on our website and
was amazed that the legend still exists. The story I heard as a kid in
the 80s was that Deerman was created by a man who earned his living
skinning and tanning hides in his barn. Somehow, late one dark and
stormy night, something happened and he was given two legs of a deer, a
mans torso and arms (for writing), and the gigantic head of a 10-point
buck, said our serviceman. Its important to note that Deerman was
not a cruel freak of nature, but the result of an unholy obsession with
The soldier concluded his message by asking us to please not use his
name. I wouldnt want Deerman to come and hunt me down on the other
side of the world! he said. Were guessing he must have already seen
Deerman twice and is worried about that third and fatal encounter.
If I were him, I wouldnt really worry, unless he sees Deerman was here! written in white paint on the side of his barracks.
Copyright: Star Courier