Close Encounters of the Deer Kind

Living in upstate New York, I have recently discovered, nearly every person has a story to tell of hitting a deer, or two or three.  (Actually numbers show that 80,262 people hit deer in recent years in New York.)Deer1

Now I realize some city folks only encounter with deer is watching “Bambi.”   The most dangerous part of that encounter is of course having to tell a small child what happened to Bambi’s mother.   That is not a fun thing, no matter how one deals with it, but it’s not the same thing as hitting a deer.

In our family my younger daughter holds the record of 4 deer [she didn’t actually hit them, they ran into the car].  So it is no surprise that having lived here now for nearly 25 years,  I have a story or stories to share as well.

Like UFOs there are three degrees of Deer encounters.

Deer Encounter One:   You see one or more deer along the road, they are clumped in groups. You eye them wearily and they pretend not to see you.  A variation on this is deer eye your landscaping greedily, and proceed to devastate it eating nearly everything in sight, but I digress.

Deer Encounter Two:  One or more deer bolt across the road.

For example, several years ago I was on the  New York State Thruway (yes that’s the way it’s spelled) and a deer came bounding down a hill ran across the 3 lanes of traffic and then discovered a barrier in the middle.   It turned around and headed back.   Now is this clear.  Deer.  Wall to wall cars going about 75 mph.  Nowhere to run; nowhere to hide.   So it came back as I approached it.  Luckily I saw it, hit the accelerator, and watched as it passed behind my car by inches. Then I stopped the car farther up the hill and checked to see if I was OK.  The van behind me wasn’t so lucky.

Deer Encounter Three:  You hit one or more deer, much to your dismay and your insurance company’s.

Two stories on this one.

2003:  My Oldest Daughter was on her way home Thanksgiving weekend driving north.  She thought, “I’ll drive in the inside lane so I have more room to maneuver if a deer comes on the road.”  Now you might think this is a good plan, unless of course you are a deer.  It came bounding across the interstate (see above for how this works) from the opposite side of the road, jumped a divider in the median,  and landed in front of her car.   As they say, “Deploy Air Bag.”  “Call Mom and Dad.”  “Tell them you are OK.”  “Rent a Car.”  Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

2015:  My turn.  I was returning home from a church meeting in June.  It had just gotten dark and I was taking a back road which is not well lighted.  About half way home, suddenly I looked up and bang there was a deer right in front of me.  No time to react, I only got out “OH …..”   The car was still able to drive and I made it home.   So that was the end of that car. Deer Strike 001

The deer in our part of upstate New York have become a terrible problem.  They are over populated with no natural predators. While I know it dismays some folks to think that they are hunted and killed, hunters and automobiles now are the only way that these large herds are thinned each year.

I was lucky as were my daughters.

Unfortunately not all folks are.


About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Deer accidents, deer strikes, Norvell Family History, NY, Social History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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