Deer Don’t Stop!

Buck running full tilt across the road.

If you’ve never hit a deer with your car, I sincerely hope you never do because it’s not fun. Deer cross the road wherever they like, not just where there are warning signs.

I hit my first deer on my 22nd birthday. I was driving home from a birthday shopping spree on a warm, sunny afternoon in my 1989 Ford Probe when a deer ran out of the bushes next to the road. One second it wasn’t there and the next it was and I had no time to stop so I hit it at around 50 miles per hour. The Probe was a sporty, low to the ground car and I figured if I ever hit a deer with it, it’d come through the windshield. That didn’t happen though as when I hit the deer it was sent flying off into the field across the road.

I was shaken up but fine after hitting the deer, but my car was far from fine. The hood and front bumper were badly damaged and I could smell a mixture of antifreeze and hot deer fur. I was able to drive the car home to the apartment I lived in with my then husband and he managed to pull the bumper back out enough (by tying it to a tree and putting the car in reverse) to be able to close the hood. He didn’t have collision insurance on the car and it wasn’t until that event that I realized how important it is to have collision on a vehicle when it’s the only vehicle you have to drive.

The next deer I hit was a little fawn that went running out in the shadows on the road on a sunny day and I was very upset when I hit that baby. I don’t like harming any animals and I felt terrible for a very long time after hitting the fawn. As it was a small deer, it only bent my front license plate a little so my car didn’t require repair, but it took a while for my spirit to heal.

I live in deer country, although nowadays as the deer population continues to grow and humans continue to develop the land, everywhere is becoming deer country. It’s a very rural area where I live and I’ve learned where a lot of deer cross and know to look out for them. I look out for them no matter where I’m driving because deer don’t stop before crossing, they’ll run across at full speed regardless of what’s coming down the road. Unfortunately, because of their full tilt running, even I don’t see them in time sometimes. Such was the case on the 28th of last month when I was driving home from the grocery store barely five miles from my house.

I’d gone out to get a few things for dinner and had recently crossed into the 55mph area on the road when I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye. I was going about 50mph at the time I believe. The thing I saw was a deer charging down the steep slope right next to the road and I slammed on the brakes in an effort to stop but didn’t quite make it. My tires slid as my brakes locked up and I don’t know how fast I was going when I hit the deer with the front right side of my car but it was enough to stun her for a while as she lay in the opposite shoulder of the road.

Thankfully, I was fine and as I got out of my car, the doe was looking at me with huge, scared eyes as she lay in the shoulder trying to get her bearings. Someone stopped to ask if I was okay and by the time they left, the deer was gone. I don’t know if I injured her or just stunned her, but she was able to leave the scene. I walked around to the front of my car to survey the damage and saw that my hood was bent up and my headlight was broken off its mount. The way my hood was buckling and not making a good seal, I knew I’d have to get it repaired. Fortunately, I have collision on my Toyota Matrix and good coverage so I knew I’d be okay.

Damage to my car

Damage to my car

car damage 2

car damage 3

I’d never had to go through insurance to pay for car repairs before so that was an interesting process. I got an estimate for repairs and it topped $2000, which was way more than my $500 deductible. Fortunately, I also have coverage for a car rental while my car gets repaired and for anyone who has only one vehicle to drive and doesn’t necessarily have the cash always on hand to repair it, I highly suggest having collision insurance with rental coverage. After the deer hit I lowered my deductible to $250 for any future incidents (which I sincerely hope don’t happen) because I never really thought about having to shell out $500 at once until it came time to do it.

I finally had everything coordinated and dropped my Matrix off for repairs this morning. My mom was nice enough to pick me up from the garage and take me to the rental place and they set me up with a 2016 Ford Escape. My mom had a Ford Escape several years ago and it was a nice little SUV, but when I saw the new Escape, it didn’t look anything like an SUV. It didn’t look that much bigger than my little Matrix! Odd what people consider SUVs these days.

I found it somewhat amusing that my rental is a Ford when I’ve had a less than wonderful history with Ford vehicles. Fords are all my ex-husband owns and drives, but I’ve been much happier (and had way less issues) since I bought my Toyota. My Matrix is a stick shift because I love stick, but manuals are hard to find these days so driving the automatic Escape feels weird. I miss my clutch! I’m grateful I have something to drive while my car gets repaired, but I’ll be happier to get my Matrix back. The bells and whistles on the Escape are fun to play with, but way more than I need. I do rather love the blue color of it though…

My rental, a 2016 Ford Escape

My rental, a 2016 Ford Escape

The moral of my story is that you can’t count on deer to stop for cars and you can’t always stop for them, even when you’re cautious. They travel in groups too so if you see one crossing the road, slow down because there are probably more where that one came from. Regardless of where you live, it’s always good to keep your eyes open for deer because they’re out all sorts of places at all times of day and are about as predictable as squirrels but immensely bigger!

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Enjoying the Journey

When I set out on my walk last night with Jazzmin down that access road I’d never traveled before, I didn’t know where it led. But I went anyway. I don’t know if that’s brave or stupid or both, but it’s part of what makes me the person I am. I don’t shy away from the unknown anymore, I explore it until it’s known and understood by me. Life is full of endless journeys and even when you think you know the destination, you really don’t.

During the return walk on the farmer’s access road, I opened my eyes to more of what was around me. I discovered a plethora of mayapples blooming beneath the numerous trees and I saw several flowering bushes that were unfamiliar to me.

A single may apple blossom

A single may apple blossom

The whole hill was covered with blooming may apples!

The whole hill was covered with blooming may apples!

Most of these bushes had white flowers but this one had pink flowers.

Most of these bushes had white flowers but this one had pink flowers.

There are several areas along the road where the view through the trees is breathtaking in its expanse. As I crested the hill once more and walked down it toward home I could just make out my house in the distance. It helped put things in perspective as to where exactly I was.

My house is that yellow speck in the distance.

My house is that yellow speck in the distance.

My yellow house and my white Matrix.

My yellow house and my white Matrix.

It was an amazingly nice night and quite peaceful since no one was mowing their lawns or weed whacking or leaf blowing. The birds were happily flying among the trees and I was relaxed because I knew we wouldn’t encounter any dogs on this road. Jazzmin enjoyed sniffing all the new scents and there were tons of deer track imprints in dry dirt that had recently been mud.

Jazzmin taking in all the new scents.

Jazzmin taking in all the new scents.

The walk helped reinforce to me that it’s like that saying, life is more about the journey than the destination. I do have a destination in mind for my life, in many respects I know exactly what I want. I have however learned that what I want has a way of transforming into something unexpected. I’m working hard toward achieving my goals and dreams but I know better than to focus solely on the destination without taking in every step of the journey. I am hopeful that I have many new and interesting journeys ahead and I am confident that no matter the destination, I will never take one moment of this life for granted.

amazing view

The view through an opening in the trees.