Thursday, November 12, 2020

*Sigh* 24 years without hitting an animal, and then...

 

I've done my best to be a good driver in the USA, despite coming from a country where we drove on the correct other side of the road.  It took a bit of adapting, particularly considering that my first driving experience in this country was in Los Angeles, where six-lane freeways and high-velocity, high-profanity traffic are the order of the day!  Still, so far, so good . . . until very recently.

Last month, while we were on the road at Blogorado, a suicidal hare ran underneath my wheels late one night.  It gave Miss D. and I quite a start, because it appeared out of nowhere and gave us no opportunity at all to evade.  The resulting thump as we went over it with both offside wheels wasn't pleasant, but at least it was a small animal, and did no damage to our vehicle.

Last night, it happened again.  I was driving home in the darkness when a small whitetail deer dashed across the road from my left.  I saw it coming, but couldn't take evasive action, thanks to traffic coming the other way and the road shoulder dropping away to my off-side.  Sure enough, it ran straight into the corner of my bumper.  The vehicle shook, but kept going until I could pull off the road and examine the damage.  Again, fortunately for us, it's relatively minor, but it's left a dent in the bumper and a couple of bits of trim broken.  I'll have to get it checked out, and talk to our insurers about repairs.

I hate hitting animals (or anything else, for that matter).  Having avoided it for so long, it's not a nice feeling to hit two in successive months.  I guess that's the penalty for driving after dusk, when they come out of their daytime cover and wander around.

(There are lots of dead skunks on the side of North Texas roads at present, which is puzzling us.  We refer to February as "suicidal skunk season", but these critters are three months early.  The resulting smell hanging over the road on either side of the carcass is not appreciated!)

Oh, well.  I'll have to watch out for the size progression.  I've gone from a hare to a small whitetail deer in one month.  If that pattern continues, around February or March next year, I'll be hitting the first moose to be seen in Texas for centuries!




Peter


36 comments:

libertyman said...

Have a look at this article about moose vs. car:

https://www.facs.org/media/press-releases/2019/moose031419

Look at the Maine State Police car and the damage from the moose. I imagine the moose did not fare well either.

While driving in northern New Hampshire, we saw a bear running across the road, a very rare sight, but not something you would want to hit either.

Now imagine you are on a motorcycle...

Etaoin Shrdlu said...

In New Hampshire we used to frequently see cars with bright yellow bumper stickers which said,

"BRAKE FOR MOOSE
IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!"

You might need one.

Gray said...

By all means brake for animals,but not try to evade by swerving. I have known several people who have totaled cars and sustained injuries by going off the road in an attempt to avoid an animal.

Back in the 1970's my father drove a small foreign pickup truck. One morning on his way to work a rabbit ran out into the road. My father heard the thump but it was only a rabbit and he had to get to work. A few miles down the road and the temperature gauge began to climb. Pulling over he stepped out and found the remains of the rabbit embedded in the grill blocking the air flow to the radiator. When startled rabbits tend to jump straight up into the air, or in this case into the grill. His coworkers kidded him relentlessly about how his tiny foreign pickup truck was taken out by a rabbit.

Third Boxcar Midnight Train said...

Years ago, when I lived in Texas, my buddy hit a vulture.
Talk about stink !

Mark@Bismarck said...

Quite a few states are seeing a decline in deer hunting and a resulting increase in deer population. Not to mention urban sprawl taking up areas that deer normally inhabited. I'd dare say that the number of incidents such as yours is on the increase and likely to continue. Years ago I was traveling home from a boy scout hike and had the misfortune to encounter a small white tail deer. I managed to come to a near stop but enough so that there was not damage to my vehicle. Glad you sustained no injuries.

Ritchie said...

Some auto parts stores sell whistles to stick on your bumper to alert deer. Not sure if they actually work.

Howard Brewi said...

Don’t feel bad! Once back in the eighties coming back from church mid day we had a deer run into the side of the van well back from the front. After we moved back to Alaska I had one moose hit me from the side folding the Mordor back and leaving a smear of mucus on the side windows. Some years later my wife wasn’t so lucky. Midday a moose running flat out hit just far enough forward that it got its head ripped off and left on the dashboard and then the carcus took out the side windows and left a pile of poop in the back of the van. No one hurt but the van was totaled, at least the people the troopers called to salvage the meat were happy with how well it was bled out! All true stories.

Jim said...

Only one? I've hit about a half dozen deer and a few years back my daughter totaled a car when she hit one. Some seem suicidal. Once I topped a rise and saw th deer in time to evade, but he'd have none of that and sashed right in front of the pickup. Don't hit a moose! 30 odd years ago I was driving in Montana when a moose wandered into my path. Only youthful reflexes saved the pickup. Those things are huge!

Thomas W said...

Dead skunks by the road 3 months early? Further proof of climate change!

Glen said...

A plethora of dead skunks is a good indication of a rabies outbreak. Looks like you folks are in the high risk area. Link: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/rabies/information/skunks/#:~:text=You%20cannot%20get%20rabies%20by,begin%2C%20the%20disease%20is%20fatal.

Plague is also a problem in Texas critters, but more in west Texas than your part of the state. https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/uploadedImages/Content/Prevention_and_Preparedness/IDCU/health/zoonosis/mapping/maps/Plague.jpp

I doubt you need worry about Moose, but an Angus bull would be an interesting road kill trophy (or the bull might drag remains of you SUV back to his place).

glasslass said...

Made a drive of 2 1/2 hours to go the airport every Sunday and Friday for 18 years. Insurance company had Deer Whistles on their counter and said claims went down for people using them. Have had a set on my car since and never hit an animal. Saw a herd of deer running for the road as I was coming and the buck lifted his head and turned the herd around. Can buy them at Walmart for $5.99. I have given these as stocking stuffers. They work.

LL said...

I was driving my Ford Raptor down a hardball road at about 60 mph at night and an great horned owl dove in front of the truck. Bang and a cloud of owl feathers. Took him out. Maybe the owl hoped for professional courtesy from another raptor but that's not how it worked out.

Montieth said...

Considering what one can hit in and around blogorado (Farmgirl's elk).....a small deer is still very lucky....

scamorama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scamorama said...

In this part of the PacNW, the Gifford Pinchot and Mount Hood National Forests, the chance of meeting up with a deer is pretty good.

I remember being told many, many years ago to not use my high beams if I was driving in deer country. The thinking was that the high beam "light cone" will cause a deer to freeze, and once the cone passes, the deer will jump or run in whatever direction it was facing -- like, the road in front your vehicle.
Made a certain amount of sense, so I don't use my high beams in certain areas.

Will said...

I've read that tests of those bumper noise makers found no effect on deer or other animals. Not a scary noise to them, and vehicles don't scare them either, as they are also not a natural effect. Step out of a vehicle, and watch them run, though.

P. Lester said...

I drove from Dallas to Alpine a few years ago and could hardly believe how many deer were laying along the roads out there. Makes night driving a nervous experience.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Three kinds of drivers in deer country. Those who has hit a deer. Those who will hit a deer. Those who will hit a deer again.

Sherm said...

I was taught early on that if I was ever lost I should find an opossum trail. Following it will lead you straight to a highway.

Bob said...

Straddled an armadillo with a car, heard it bounce underneath the car. About 10 or 12 years ago hit a bat with a pickup truck, it got lodged under the windshield wiper.

William said...

This. So much this.

jon spencer said...

As others have said, brake in a straight line.
If you miss the animal and go in the ditch, it is your fault and probably will get a ticket and have to deal with that.
If you hit the animal and go in the ditch, it is the animals fault.

OvergrownHobbit said...

From libertyman's link (above)

were no human fatalities in 158 Maine crashes involving Swedish vehicles, which, the authors say, “are specifically engineered to tolerate moose-motor vehicle crashes

Engineers vs. Moose!

TwoDogs said...

Driving from Waco to Phoenix in one day to see the granddaughter has given us pause. The outbound leg is not too bad, as the worst of the deer country (Goldthwaite, Brady, Menard, Iraan) was traversed in daylight. The thought of that same route in the dead of night on the way back was scary. We did it last spring without incident, but last month opted for the northern route through Pecos, Midland and Abilene. More Interstate, and it seemed much safer. We only saw one dead deer on the road the whole way and saw no live ones at all. Big difference.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

I have had several car/critter collisions, the first one was when I was on leave from Germany and visiting the states in 1987, My dad was taking me to go rent a car and we were a mile from home and a big buck ran out and side swiped his brand new dodge minivan, the deer staggered fell down, got up then got decapitated by the reefer truck that was behind us. Well my dad was cussing up a blue streak, he was pissed, pulls out a new device called a "bag phone" and calls the Police. We get out and while we were surveying the damage, we hear the screech of brakes as a dude in a pick-up truck slams on the brakes..runs over grabs the deer head with the rack, throws the head in the truck and takes off....only in Georgia.. 2nd time was in Germany, I was with my brother on the Autobahn in his mustang and we see this hawk near Kaiserslautern do a perfect roll and dive into the grill of the mustang...all we see is the wing beating the crap out of the hood of the cra as we pull over. Somehow the bird got between the grill and the radiator, we proceed to pull pieces of own off the radiator as Germans drive wondering what the heck those 2 crazy Ami's were doing. and the last one was in 2012 when I hit a deer in my 2007 Ford Focus on the Interstate doing 85 miles an hour. Flat out totaled that car out,. but I was uninjured.

PPPP said...

Bumped a bunny, eh?

Let's see.
Back about '79 I hit a big skunk while I was in college. I was lead car heading up a dorm caravan. I think we were going bowling. Barely saw him as he was crossing in front of me at 10' and caught him with both passenger side tires. Fortunately, his tail was pointed outward. That didn't really help the following cars. We all took a different route back to the college.

A suicidal cat headed on a straight intercept course on the morning of my wedding day back in '88 as I was taking the car off site (we would be leaving the church in a beautiful fancified '34 Ford Sedan). Head butted the car in the passenger side kick panel. Saw him spinning in the middle of the highway. My best man behind me tried to put it out of its misery but he missed.

A couple of squirrels, a couple of birds, one possum and one baby bambi. Three more feet of skid room and he'd have walked away. Bumped it hard enough to break both back legs. A logger pulled up behind us and put it on a blanket on the side of the road. I drove another mile into town and called the sheriff to report it. They called the forest service, who went out and picked it up and took it to a vet. Once mended it spent the rest of its life in a children's zoo.

So far, no vehicle damage.

"Zack" said...

My 18-year-old Granddaughter bagged her first deer a couple of days ago. Her choice of armament was her 1999 Chevy Malibu, which now is in need of substantial repair. A friend of hers harvested the remains of the deer. The Malibu is salvageable. No human injuries. The universe is in balance.

Jess said...

The wild pig problem in Texas is far from over, and they will migrate to roads for drier ground, the warmth, or to feed on those leftover burgers people throw out the window. Hitting one of those usually means going over the pig, severe damage to the undercarriage, and the possibility of serious injury. With weights sometimes exceeding 500 pounds, hitting one is like hitting a full oil drum.

Unknown said...

Now you have proof that the Texas Whitetail Deer Highway Liberation Front Crack Suicide Squad is operating in your area. Beware all motor vehicle oppressors!

A friend of ours in New Hampshire was driving her Dodge Neon when a black bear ran out of the woods, ran into the side of her car, and puked up blueberries all over it. After being unable to find a shop willing to try cleaning it up, the insurance company totaled the car.

Dave said...

We have deer roaming in the 'burbs as well. I've seen them on several occasions, and gave one a love tap with my bumper one evening on the way home.

Fortunately I had braked when I saw the deer's buddy, so it just knocked them down. As I stopped the car, it scrambled to its feet and took off. No damage to the car, either -- just rattled me.

Etaoin Shrdlu said...

I've already commented, but since so many others are sharing stories...2nd bite of the apple...In the mid-70's I was driving after work Friday from Jacksonville FL to Pensacola to see friends for the weekend. I was in my new '75 Chevy Cosworth Twincam Vega. About midnight, somewhere west of Tallahassee on I-10, the road was totally empty, doing about 100 mph (normally I'm saner than that) In the high beams I see a big balled-up armadillo in the road. No time to even react. I hit the armadillo with the right front tire, and thought it had blown for an instant, then the car was smooth as silk again; I looked in the rear view mirror, and nothing was visible. I stopped, there was no damage. All I could figure was that I had launched the armadillo into the next county. Yes, I slowed down after that.

Roy said...

Yeah, deer. You do know that some of them parachute out of helicopters directly onto the highway in front of you. Right? /sarcasm = off

Where I live, in central KY, deer are prolific, and I live in a rural area, so I see at least one just about every time I go out.

I have hit two deer in the past ten years. The first one, back in 2010, I was going about 40mph on a back road in the middle of the day, when the deer jumped out of the brush directly in my path. I hit the brake but still hit the deer. It got up and ran off, but the damage to my front grill and fender was expensive.

The last one was this past August. My wife and I were heading south on I-71 in northern KY at about 10:00 PM. It was full dark and we were at a place where there is a very large stand of woods between the northbound and southbound halves of the expressway. We were in the right lane when another car passed us on the left like we were standing still. The irony is that both my wife and I said at the same time: "He'd better look out for the deer!"

About a half minute later a large whitetail buck ran flat out from the woods to our left, right in front of us. I didn't see him until he entered my headlight beam, so I never even had a chance to brake. I hit that deer flat out doing at least 75mph. I killed him deader than Julius Caesar, but he also killed my car that was barely a year old. It caved in the whole front end right back to and including the radiators. But more importantly, all 5 airbags deployed. Due to the air bags, the insurance company totaled the car, but it paid enough that I was able to get another one just like it.

Just the night before last, I hit a suicidal skunk. It was my first one, but that was enough. Whew! I agree with other posters, there do seem to be a lot of dead skunks on the road for autumn. We mostly see those in the spring.

The thing about animals on the road is that you really shouldn't swerve to miss them. (I might make an exception for a moose or elk, but you don't see them around these parts.) Our highway department has stated that most deer-strike fatalities are due to drivers swerving to miss the deer and hitting an even greater hazard - a tree, a bridge abutment, or oncoming traffic.

The most prolific dead-animal-on-the-road around here are possums.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

"To prove to the possum that it could be done."

stine2469 said...

My grandma hit 3 at once, one medium-sized doe and two fawns. The impacts caved in the front of her vehicle, embedding the fan into the radiator. She called home and said she'd hit a deer. After driving to pick her up, grandpa didn't tell her she'd actually hit 3.

Will said...

~1975, maybe 3:30am, in the South Jersey Pine Barrens forest, just coming even with a cornfield, I spotted a deer sprinting right to left, heading for the corn. I stamped on the brakes, expecting more to be following. Nailed the next one, a very large doe. Engine stalled, and I could see the deer tumbling along the lefthand shoulder. Engine wouldn't crank. Opened the hood to find the radiator pushed into the fan.
Walked down to where the deer had last been seen, and she was gone! Totaled my '66 Ranchero, and walked away, mumble-mumble, grr... Spotted a trail into the corn, and heard some thrashing around, so I went to look. Found her laying down with only three legs evident. She bled out in a couple minutes, and I couldn't find the fourth leg. When the sun came up, I could see my tire braking tracks straight down the lane.
Used my bumper jack to push the radiator assembly off the fan, cracked the radiator cap open, and continued home. Discovered that morning that the law regarding the disposition of vehicle dispatched deer had changed. Used to be that it had to be given to the local Game Management official for donation to charity, but it had been found that the charity was often his own table, so the state had decided that you could keep it yourself, for the hassle involved. Grabbed my dad's truck and ran back to get it, but it was gone. I figured the farmer had found it.
Replaced the radiator, fan, grill, hood, and both fenders. Was doing maybe 75mph when I nailed the brakes, and not much slower when we impacted. Had a CB350 Honda in the bed.

End of an interesting weekend. Started with a 2+ hour drive to my sister's wedding in PA, at the estate of the daughter of Sam Houston, IIRC. Ran out of gas crossing a bridge over the Delaware River. Dad towed me off to a gas station using my motorcycle tiedown straps. Got picked up by a girl at the ceremony, and spent the weekend with her. She helped me collect the Honda in Delaware for a stepbrother. I had been given that chore at the wedding, and didn't have a ramp, but the 6ft tall girl helped me lift it into the truck. She pointed me out her door about midnite Sunday. Stopped for a nap on the side of the road, but some cops rousted me out near Vineland, and I smacked the deer shortly afterwards.

Old NFO said...

Better that than a black Angus...Just sayin...

Unknown said...

Just imagine if you will, driving down the road with the window down and seeing a blur and the next thing the cab is filled with feathers. After skidding to a stop and checking for damage I realized I was bleeding. The side of my face didn't fare well and neither did the pheasant.