Friday, November 09, 2007

Dear God, Why Are Deer So Dumb?

Ah yes. Dumb deer. For two weeks now we have seen dozens of dead deer along the highways and byways between here and St. Louis. And if the deer aren't still laying there, we know that they were there just recently because of the evidence left on the road itself. No, it isn't a pretty subject but you'll see in a minute why it is so prominently on our minds around here these days.

Over the years I've wondered why the deer seem to be attracted to roads. After all, the sound of motorized vehicles can't be something they are taught to run to when just a tender fawn or even when growing in to buckhood. You'd think they'd have figured out by now to stay away from long stretches of concrete, even when empty, because bad things can happen to you. Very bad things. But alas, deer are just dumb. Dumb, dumb deer...

I've heard it said, just a week or so ago as a matter of fact, that deer are out of control this year. I've even heard it said that there are just too many of them running across the countryside this season and they are wrecking havoc as they go. And it seems I might have even heard from a very reliable source that there are far more deer this year than there have been in recent history, and they are causing more problems than usual. What is that? What reliable source did I hear that from you ask? Oh, that's easy. I've heard from two very experienced sources. The first source was a State Highway Patrolman that we happened to meet on the side of the road just last Monday. And the second source? Oh that would have been Brandon. He's a tow truck driver and we met him by the side of the road, too.

No, we weren't at a fundraiser for the Save the Deer Foundation. And no, we weren't even stopped at a truck stop. Nor were we in a traffic jam or around any other cars at all. Well, except the patrolman's car and the tow truck. No, we were sitting quietly, waiting. Waiting for Don and my Dad to arrive to rescue us. Waiting for one or both of them to come along and save us and our vehicle from "Buck". Or what was left of Buck, anyway.

Yes, I met a deer. And he was a biggun'. A really, really biggun'. We didn't really have a chance to introduce ourselves or anything. But we met none the less. Up close and personal. Just a quick chat mind you. He didn't say much. I did most of the talking, er screaming. Of course he was far too busy with that whole 'deer in the headlights' thing to care. But I think he took it too personally. He got far too cozy with my headlight. And now that particular headlight will never dance another dance with a deer again. But the car, and everyone in it will live to see another deer someday. Let's just hope that this time it isn't such a quick, personal visit. I'll settle for a quick glimpse as it runs across the field on the other side of the highway. I'll even honk a greeting if they'd prefer. But no more up close and personals please. No one will ever be able to replace Buck. He was my first. I think I'll leave it at that.

When the State Highway Patrolman showed up, Buck was long gone. Or at least too far off the road for any headlights to find him easily in such deep darkness. Which was fine with the patrolman. He did his paperwork and hung around until Brandon arrived. I think he was secretly hoping Brandon would arrive with the Calvary, or at least another car, but he didn't. Brandon, aboard his faithful flatbed tow truck arrived with the news that only two could join him in the cab as he towed the car four miles down the road. The patrolman, who had already informed me that only two were legally allowed to ride in his car as well was very busy doing the math. Two women, two boys and a child in double leg casts in a carseat weren't going to fit. I knew they wouldn't leave us sitting out there, but I also knew that they'd want to get us off the road long before Don and my Dad arrived to pick us up.

So the patrolman and Brandon had a conference. It seems a plan was hatched. One that is blatantly illegal, but overall seemed best to the young patrolman at the time. He approached us in the van and asked, very calmly mind you, if we'd mind riding in the car while it was on board Brandon's tow truck. Ah, laughter. It is a wonderful thing. My Mom and I agreed to it with a smile and we prepared for liftoff amidst much laughter. Oh, there were a few tears, too. Don't get me wrong. I think Jonathan expressed several times that he wasn't a fan of roller coaster rides. But over time even he came to find the humor in the experience. And his laughter joined the rest of ours before we were even half way down the road. Indeed it was a bumpy ride as we swayed back and forth up there high enough to see right in the truckers cabs. But it was fun, too. And it seemed to relax us as we relived some of what we'd just been through. We were going to be just fine. The Lord had taken care of us.

And He had. Over the next few days we realized that we had been driving the perfect car. My Dad's van, a Chevy Astro, is built on a truck bed and has a tow/haul package. This meant the frame was reinforced and the brakes are excellent. After all, you have to stop whatever you're pulling safely! It's height, weight and other safety measures meant that Buck landed on the side of the road instead of on top or the car or through the windshield. It also meant that the milk Mom was pouring the kids when we so intimately met Buck didn't even spill. None of us were hurt. Not a scratch, muscle ache or even a whimper of pain. We also learned that Buck was indeed a big, full grown dude. Toby, the man who does our bodywork, stated that he knew he was large because of how the car was dented and the impression Buck head and so on left on the side of the vehicle. Deer that large generally do human damage as well as totally cars. We are so thankful that the Lord put is in the right car in order to protect us. And while I wish he had helped us avoid the accident all together, I know that there were lessons we needed to learn in all of this. And believe me, we won't soon forget.

Mom had to drive back down to Columbus three days later and she looked to see if she could find Buck. After all, it would have been nice to know for sure just how big he was and how many points there were on his antlers. But it seems the clean up crew had been by. Not one of the many we saw last weekend were still there. Not even Buck. So we'll never really know much beyond what has already been confirmed. And Buck has gone on to bigger and better pastures. But he will live on in my life for quite awhile. After all, I think the Lord has a few more lessons to reteach me about trusting him. I hope I learn them well enough that he doesn't have to introduce me to any more of Buck's relatives.

Wonder what the view was like up there on the tow bed? Here's what we saw looking out our windshield. It was a once in a lifetime thing so I just had to capture the moment...

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