With the word "Bucky!" Staten Island's Rachel Kowalski summoned not her dog, cat or child, Tuesday, but instead a deer.
"Some people want to keep him as a neighborhood mascot," Kowalski said, "which he cannot be."
Kowalski and a small group of others in Midland Beach say they feed a wild eight-point buck some combination of apples, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon nearly every day. The deer allegedly appears so frequently for meals in a fenced-in, overgrown lot, Kowalski and others thinks he lives there.
"They sit within like five feet of him," Midland Beach resident Anthony Scotto said, "and he's just munching away on his trees just letting them watch. Crazy, right?"
Crazier still, a video shot by the Staten Island Advance shows Bucky coming to eat strawberries from a woman's hand when called by his given name.
Bucky never showed up for Fox 5 despite three hours of Kowalski's best deer calls, but those who feed him (none of whom, it should be noted, are wildlife biologists) agreed it was likely his nap time. Where they disagreed was on what to do with Bucky going forward.
"This is not a petting zoo," Kowalski said. "He needs to be with other deer. He needs help. He needs to be saved."
A spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Protection called Staten Island Bucky's natural habitat. It said it would move an animal if trapped on one of its properties, but had heard no such report regarding Bucky.
"Where's he going to go?" Kowalski said. "Into traffic? Hurt somebody? Get hurt? Get killed?"
With a growing population of deer on Staten Island and no natural predators to control it, clashes between man and beast seem unlikely to dissipate.