WOODS ‘N’ WATER: This time of year, be wary of the collision course

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: This time of year, be wary of the collision course

Record-Journal

“THUD”!

You ae driving down the highway, completely relaxed, maybe listening to your favorite radio station (mine is Country 92.5 FM) when you are jolted out of your reverie by the sickening thought that you just hit something with your vehicle.

Your vehicle bounces as you run over whatever it was you just hit and you are in pure panic, hoping it was not a human being as you bring your vehicle to a screeching stop.

Your mind races as you try to reconstruct what just happened even before you get out of the vehicle to check things out. One minute you are on the road without a care in the world and now you are facing your worst nightmare.

It is a form of instant relief when you see that it was not a person you just hit, but a whitetailed deer.

The relief is short-lived, though, when you start to look at the damage that has been done to your car or pickup truck after the collision.

The deer is horribly crippled by the impact, but not yet dead. It’s writhing on the road, fruitlessly trying to get up, but its time on this earth is now very limited.

Closer examination of your vehicle reveals it is no longer drivable. You will need to have it towed.

You use your cell phone to call the police to report what just happened and, when the officer arrives, if the deer is still alive, he will put it out of its misery and get you a tow truck.

The fact that you did not get injured in the collision with the deer is a miracle in itself, because such accidents result in over 200 deaths in the United States each year.

Most of the time death happens when the deer comes through the windshield, killing the driver. Other times, the driver might swerve to avoid hitting the deer and end up hitting an oncoming car or a tree or utility pole, resulting in a fatality.

In the long run, hitting the deer is the better of the two options, if such a choice can be called “better.”

A number of years ago, Edna and I benefited from a driver who chose to hit a deer rather than hit us head-on. It was mid-afternoon and Edna was driving my pickup on a New York back-country road.

We were just starting up a small grade when a deer materialized on the right side of the road in front of us. I yelled “DEER!” and Edna braked in time to avoid hitting it, but now the deer was in the path of another vehicle coming down the highway in front of us.

The driver of that vehicle had two options: Hit us or hit the deer. Thankfully, for us, he hit the deer.

The deer was rather small, maybe a yearling, and when the car hit it, it went airborne over the vehicle and landed in the road behind the car.

The impact released both airbags in the smashed car. The driver, other than being a bit shaken up and having a small wound on his arm, was OK.

To this day, I can never figure out how Edna missed hitting that deer and, thankfully, she did not swerve into the path of the oncoming car. I guess I taught her right, but don’t tell her I said that.

“You don’t need a gun or hunting license to get a deer, Mike. I got one this morning with my car!”

This statement was made to me by the clerk at a convenience store in New York. She said she hit the deer that morning on the way to work and it caused over $2,000 in damage. I asked her if that was her first deer run-in and she said, “No, it was my fourth!”

I did not pen this article to turn anyone off, but rather as a gruesome warning of the dangers that all drivers face, especially this time of the year when the whitetailed bucks are in rut and chasing female deer to breed. I have witnessed the chase a number of times over the years and they throw caution to the wind as the breeding season peaks.

Although deer can pop out in front of your vehicle just about any time, it most often happens in the early morning hours and late evening.

While most of the time you will not see the deer until it is too late, there are also times when the deer might cross in front of you far enough ahead to give you time to use your brakes. Also keep in mind that if you see one deer in the road, there are apt to be more following it.

In this day and age, with the overflow of humans and the loss of much of the whitetails’ natural habitat, one never knows when or where a deer might pop up in front of a vehicle. Here in Meriden and surrounding towns, I have seen deer in the most unlikely places, so caution is the key word, especially during the early morning and evening hours.

How well I remember traveling a backroad in Connecticut one morning while going deer hunting when a doe jumped out in front of me. I was just outside of the town of Kent. The screeching of my tires must have woke up any residents within hearing distance.

I did not hit that deer, but was astonished to see two more following it and both were carrying some very nice antlers.

I have seen the damage that a deer/vehicle collision can cause and believe me when I tell you it is not pretty.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, Connecticut ranked No. 37 in chances to have a deer/vehicle incident during the 2017-18 period, with your chances being 1 in 263. In 2016, Connecticut was 40th with a 1-in-304 chance of an incident with a deer.

Statistics show that nationwide over 200 deaths occur every year with a cost of over $1.1 billion in property damage.

A couple of hot areas for deer to be seen in our area are Interstate 691 and Research Parkway. I hope this keeps you from being a deer/vehicle statistic and, while you are at it, thank a deer hunter for helping to keep the deer number down.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country.


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