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.)
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.
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.