Deer in the Headlights

Tonight the car in front of mine hit a deer on a stretch of 45 mph highway. I suppose the event in and of itself isn't that unusual, but I have never seen that happen right in front of me. In fact I have never been more than ten feet close to a deer, much less touched one, in my whole life. At the time, both the car in front of me and my car were probably traveling at least 45 miles per hour, so the impact put the deer on its back and its legs in the air almost immediately. By the time my car arrived at the point of impact, the deer was near the double yellow lines and flailing its legs in every direction. With my sister encouraging me we, my sister and my brother and I, pulled off the side off to the side of the road and put on our hazard lights before stepping out of the car and walking back along the side of the road to the deer's side. It was dangerous and I made a point of watching out for my sister more than the deer when cars were coming, but as soon as they saw us and the deer most cars slowed down quite a lot and a few even stopped to ask what happened and if everything was okay. We told them the car in front of us hit the deer and we were just trying to see what we could do for it. Impressively in only a few minutes the deer moved itself on its side by pushing its legs and body up and down until it slid off the road past the solid white line. Far enough away from traffic, and able to walk a bit, we helped the deer move off into the grass on the side. By this time another driver, a country boy who said his mother had taken care of quite a few deer, stopped like us and helped us check the deer for any injuries. Finding none he and my sister helped it to stand and calm it down some. It was a young buck with small stumps where his antlers will be in a few years and probably still pretty close to his family even though he had run out of the forest a ways. The shock of the hit, the constant light of car headlights, and the unusual behavior, scent and touch of all of us kept it standing still for quite a while, but it was becoming apparent that this deer wasn't hurt too badly from the car it hit just a few moments earlier. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for the car.

After maybe ten minutes, the black car that hit the deer came back and pulled up on the other side of the road. The young girl driving and her mother came to where we were and told us that their hearts were still beating loudly from the surprise that had come right out of the woods and hit the driver's side of their car. The police had been called and would later file a report for the huge dent on the left side of her front fender, but all and all everything was fine and they were glad to see the deer was alright. We were too. After a few more minutes, I was reaching to pick him up and take him to the forest but it bounded away across the field in front of us. Looking back one last time, it paused and then made several large jumps that put it far away at the forest's edge. It not only looked fine physically, but appeared to have all of its wits about it as it left. "That's my gift to the world," my sister said as we got back into our car, "I love being there for animals."

I know there is a lot of suffering in the world and that I have spent a lot of time and writing on a topic which might seem small in comparison to dozens of human tragedies, but I think the challenges we are mostly faced with on a day-to-day basis are small ones. The question of what we will do when we hit something, or see something hit, on the side of the road is a valid one that we will all have to answer. I think we made the right decision tonight and I'm glad that my brother and sister were there to encourage me to do that.