Yes, I killed a deer. With my car.. On a country road at night. With my cousin. I have come to loathe deer.
Not too long ago, I thought deer were cute…You know, Bambi and innocence, and happy little things bouncing through the forests, grazing on God knows what. I have come to realize they are nothing more than cow-like parasites that have too few natural predators besides unsuspecting people in cars. It’s time to unite. We need more coyotes and wolves in the area.
My cousin and I were returning from Wisconsin after visiting my aunt around Christmas a couple of years ago. We had taken my aunt to a church function that she had been instrumental in establishing before she broke her hip, and I knew she was looking forward to the event but couldn’t get there. So I convinced Betty, my cousin, that we should take our aunt to the event. A Wigilia is a traditional Polish Christmas dinner that involves special foods and practices. It would be celebrated around 3:00 PM at her church. So the two of us arrived in Wisconsin around 1:00 PM, had a lovely visit and escorted our aunt to the church where we dined on golumpki, pierogi, and kolachke. (Of course, I gorged on the kolachke.) We left around 5:00 P.M. and headed home.
Do you have any idea how dark it is in December around 5:00 PM? It’s dark. It’s hard to see in the dark. To make matters worse, in order to get to the relative safety of a toll road, we needed to travel on country roads for at least 25 miles. There were 2 choices. Take Route 47 to the Northwest Tollway, or HWY 50 to the Tri-State. Either way, long stretches of poorly-lit highway needed to be traversed before connecting with the aforementioned toll roads. I chose Route 47. In retrospect, Highway 50 would probably have been safer, but who knows. Anyway, Betty was the deer look-out. Coming from a more urban area, she didn’t understand the importance of deer look-out. As we drove south on 47, a lively conversation ensued. Neither of us were watching out for deer.
Deer behavior in December is erratic. It’s mating season, and they hop around in hormone-crazed frenzy. Their brains are directly connected to their hormones, and higher-level thinking – like that’s a car on the road – does not exist.
Just outside of Woodstock, I hit something. I didn’t know what. I looked in the direction of the impact. The frozen, fearful eyes of a deer were glued to the driver-side window. Crap! It bounced off the side of the car, staggered forward, and I hit it again. The second impact threw the car to the left on to the road’s shoulder, and then the fun really began.
Living in a climate that spews snow and ice on a regular basis during winter has its advantages. I instinctively know that slamming on brakes is a dangerous no-no, and I began coasting and feathering the brakes for several yards along the shoulder until we came to a stop. It was a hairy experience. Trees grow along the road side. Fences, mailboxes and other man-made barriers live there too. Fortunately I managed to avoid all of them. The deer was dead. We were safe. The police were called, and Betty dubbed me Mario Andretti.
Unfortunately, the story does not end there. There was a car behind me which hit the deer as well. So Rudolph was hit not twice, but three times. There were deer bits all over the place. Damn deer.
When the police finally arrived, they immediately thought I had hit the deer and took off leaving a dead deer in the middle of the highway, and the questions began. I swear to God, I am not a hit-and-run deer killer. I am not a hit-and-run anything. Once that was cleared up, I found out that in Illinois if you kill a deer you own it. It’s a legal kill. The last thing I wanted was a dead deer strapped to my very injured car while returning home on the last leg of our journey – the Northwest Tollroad..
Police officer: There’s some really sweet venison on that animal.
Me: Well, if my brother was here, he’d know what to do with it. I don’t.
Police officer: Let’s call him.
Me: He lives in Louisiana. Don’t think he’s gonna make it.
Police officer: So, what do you want to do.
Me: Sounds like you know your way around venison. Have at it.
Really…What am I going to do with a dead deer?
Long story short, somehow we arrived home safely. The driver’s side of my car was a total mess. Rudolph Got Run Over By a Teacher became the new hit at school. And I will never drive in the dark on long lonely country roads again.