I've done a bit of Googling on it, but other than its meaning, I haven't really found any definitive history of who said it first and WHY. Doesn't really matter, because I KNOW why! About 20 years ago, my husband and our two (little, then!) boys were going to a Halloween party at a neighbor's house in a few hours. My mom, who also lived on our 37 acre property, had a habit of calling when she saw deer in the pasture. "Tell Terry to get the gun - there's a deer in the pasture!" Now, we did this all legal, mind you - got a license and tag each fall...only our "hunting" consisted of just hanging around til Grandma called, and then we'd take the Kabota tractor to wherever the poor deer was and make a lot of noise in the hopes it would go someplace else, LOL!
We were just thinking about getting cleaned up and dressed for the party when Grandma called. Dang! This was just not a good time to be bagging game...plus it was cold and starting to drizzle. But Terry started the tractor and the kids and I jumped in the bucket. We dumped the boys off at Grandma's as we headed past her house to the pasture. Sure enough, there was Bambi standing right there in plain sight.
Terry tried his best to rev the tractor, cough, wave his arms, and generally let that deer know that it should just move along. Dumb deer. Just stood there. Finally, he couldn't put it off any longer...he aimed...he shot...Bambi went down. We tossed it in the bucket, picked up the boys (who, of course, were wildly excited about the dead deer!), and headed back up to our little old house. And I mean OLD house - built in stages starting early in the century uhhh...the LAST century!) and the walls insulated with nothing but dead mouse and kitten skeletons. Old oil stove, claw foot tub. Been burned down and patched up more than a few times, and had a back door on piano hinges with the most awesome old brass doorknob. Well, we raised the tractor bucket and hung the deer from it for dressing. Terry was good at cutting carefully around the "nether bits" so the meat wouldn't be spoiled by those icky gland thingies...so in return for his expertise at THAT, I got the "plum" job of reaching in and easing the innards out of the carcass - more fun than a barrel of monkeys, I tell ya! Sooooo...."innards" translates to "guts," ok? And reaching in...with my bare hands...meant I had "deer guts" on my hands. Well, back in those days, we had ONE phone, in the house, no voicemail, AND when someone called, it was a real human being and they usually had something important to tell us! So, we heard the phone ringing...and I sprinted towards the back door. I reached the door and grabbed the brass knob, turning it clockwise to open the door. Remember what I had on my hands. Yup - deer guts! At that VERY MOMENT...I realized the signifigance of "slicker than deer guts on a doorknob" because my hand just went 'round and 'round that knob without any progress being made to get that door open! Are ya losin' your lunch yet? Don't know who was on the phone.....doesn't matter now, I guess. Well, Bambi was awful tasty, at any rate...
So, AwtemNymph...aren't you glad you asked me about that saying? Stay tuned for More Redneck Sayings 'Splained :-)