I live way out in the country, at the end of a gravel road. To get anywhere, I have to travel what are called in Eastern Ontario the 'county roads', roads that are paved, but are narrow two lane strips with ditches and uncut verges. From the weeds and small trees, which are a uniform brown/grey at dusk, deer appear at unpredictable times and often at great speed. It is deer hunting season, which spooks the poor things and makes them even more unpredictable. And so, as I was driving home at dusk last night, proceeding at a moderate speed and scanning the sides of the road as well as I could, a deer materialized directly in front of me, and I hit it with a sickening thud.
The deer and I both kept going. It disappeared into the bush by the roadside and I kept driving as I was climbing a hill with a narrow shoulder. I pulled off into a parking spot by a bank of mail boxes, as the panic light came on on the dashboard and steam started to escape from under the hood. Luckily a neighbour saw me do it and she picked me up and drove me the 5 kilometres home. JG and I went back to the site where there was no sign at all of the deer and only my licence plate and a trail of antifreeze fluid to mark the spot.
This morning we did the usual things; report to the OPP, call the insurance company, call a tow truck and repair place. They know us at the repair shop. This is the third time we have turned in a car for repair after a deer collision. Once, the deer died instantly after my husband's truck crunched it. The other times the deer disappeared at top speed. I hate that; there is no easy way you can track the animal through the almost impenetrable scrub bush where we live, and no way at all to do it after dark. And given the state of my car's front end, the deer has to be injured. I can only hope that one of the multitude of hunters stalking deer in our neighbourhood will find it and put it out of its misery.
I hate this! I hate thinking of an injured animal, an injury I have caused, suffering and probably dying. I feel stupid and inept and angry with myself, even though there was really no way I could have been more careful than I was. My Jeep will cost a lot of money to repair, even with insurance, and I am probably going to be car-less for a week to ten days, and thus dependent on my husband and neighbours for transportation. Which is a big nuisance, to say the least.
When we first bought the land here, in the mid seventies, there were very few deer around. Slowly the population has increased and now they are abundant. Even though a lot of deer hunting licences are now available and a lot of people hunt, the area is probably carrying more deer than it can easily support. Farmers complain of deer depredation on their crops. There are deer to be seen all along the roads. And in the fall, in rutting and hunting season, there are frequent accidents on the roads. Pretty well everyone I know has a deer collision story. Part of the price of rural living, I guess. A least it wasn't a moose, or I wouldn't be writing this. We have them, too, and skunks and porcupines.
If I were God, I would redesign deer with flashing red noses, Rudolph style, fluorescing zebra stripes and an aversion to roadside ditches.