On Deer

I live in a part of Texas that has a rather large — some say excessive — population of whitetail deer. At this time of the year, there are bucks with velveted antlers, does aplenty, and a scattering of fawns ranging from cocker spaniel-sized to grayhound-sized. If you have a brushy area, you have deer, even in neighborhoods like the one I live in.

whitetailed deer fawn and doe Rachid H Flickr creative commons

(c) 2010 Rachid H // Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons License

This morning I went out for a walk. Morning traffic zips down the road at what seems like a significant fraction of lightspeed, but probably isn’t too fast — except for that grey Mini. I can hear that Mini shift gears 4 times in under a quarter mile, so I’m thinking she’s exceeding the 30mph speed limit.

Anyway, I encountered a significant deer herd split up on both sides of the road with the bulk of the 20-25 critters parked in one guy’s yard having an early morning nap in the shade.  A dark green truck crested the hill, spooking a fawn on the opposite side of the road. The deer in this area are not only quick on their feet, but they can change directions on a dime and leave 9 cents in change.  This one did exactly that, and darted across the road … into the front grill of the truck.

The driver stopped, which I was happy to see. Many people who smack a deer out here keep on driving. He got out, looked at the deer, looked at his truck, talked to me for a minute about where exactly that one had come from, and then he left. He looked pretty shook up, which wasn’t surprising.

I paced for a couple minutes, conned my phone into recognizing cell service, and called 411 to get either animal control or non-emergency police numbers. At about that time, a city worker drove by, and I flagged him down. The deer — to my everlasting amazement — wobbled back to his feet and hobbled off, dragging one leg. I’m not sure I could have gotten back to my feet after getting smacked by a pickup, so that was a good trick.

After I told the city worker what had just happened, he said he’d take care of it and sent me on my way.

For anyone new to the area of major deer populations, remember this: deer are unpredictable creatures. This is a good thing in the wild. If your predator can’t figure out what you’re going to do next, you have a better chance at getting away.  Unfortunately, that means we driver sorts can’t exactly predict deer movements, either, and they’re particularly active at dawn and dusk, so watch it on your commute.

If you see deer, slow down.  If it’s dark, flicker your lights. If you do that, you’ll be less likely to find a deer with the hood of your car.

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