Apex Predator

So I was driving back from Pittsboro, where Kevin lives, having just had a nice dinner with him and his kids and done some last minute trip prep.

I was just outside of town, traveling down a fairly generic country highway at twilight, and–you can probably see where this is going–two deer bolted into the road.

I stomped down on the brake, knew immediately that it wasn’t gonna matter, and a quarter-second later, my Nissan Altima plowed into the pair of them, one on each side, with a pair of simultaneous and very unpleasant thuds.

Exit two deer, stage left.

I finished hitting the brakes, sat in the car for a minute, said fuck, turned on the hazards, said fuck again, looked in the rearview, saw one deer thrown across the road and into the opposite verge (the driver’s side deer, which I hit squarely in the head and neck and can pretty much guarantee instant death) and the passenger side deer gone, either into the tall grass or into the woods, depending on whether the smack to the hindquarters was lethal or not. Given that I was going around 45, I suspect the former.

Thank Ganesh they were out of the road. I know that as a responsible motorist, it’s my duty to haul the victim out of traffic, but there’s a big difference between knowing your duty and actually going and grabbing onto a freshly killed deer as big as you are and trying to wrestle it onto the shoulder. I’m not sure what I would have done.*

I said fuck a few more times, sighed, thought something to the effect that of COURSE this happens the night before a long roadtrip, felt immediately guilty, since I was fine and the deer were not going to be taking any roadtrips ever again, and tried to get out of the car.

That was when I discovered that the driver’s side door now only opens about a foot. The front driver’s quarter panel is dented rather badly, and the front passenger headlight is cracked and full of deer hair. Still, the scrawny new me can get in and out, and the car drives just fine,  no apparent crumpling on the hood, nothing hanging loose and sparking, so it could have been a helluva lot worse. And I’m perfectly okay, of course.

I drove off and called Kevin up, mostly to say “Fuck! I killed two deer! Dude!” as one does in such situations, got his machine, and drove away. He got ahold of me two minutes later and his first question of course was “Are they out of the road?” (Actually, it might have been “are you okay?” but that one got brushed off, since I was fine, just rather frazzled.) Kevin is also a responsible motorist, and furthermore worries about the fate of the buzzards and crows and raccoons and other scavengers. This is part of why I love him. We established that they were indeed out of the road.

If I were the person I wish I were, I would have gone back and checked to make sure the deer were really dead, but I honestly didn’t think of it until I was another five miles down the road. (I’m not sure what I would have done if one wasn’t, frankly…perform the coup de grace with my Leatherman?**) I suspect I wasn’t thinking of anything much except “Dude. Dude. Dude. Dead deer. DUDE.”

So I got home, car seems fine (Kevin’ll check it over in the morning, in case I’m missing anything) and the insurance company has been notified.

Never hit a deer before. It’s worth noting that I’ve apparently become calmer in my old age, because I never did get the mad adrenaline rush that a near-miss used to generate in my youth. So that’s a good thing.

This is not the start to a roadtrip that one hopes for, but here’s hoping that was all the bad mojo out in one place.

*Okay, yes, I do, I probably would have called Kevin and said “Help! Can’t move this deer!”

**Okay, yes, I do, I probably would have called Kevin and said “Bring an axe.”

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