The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 30, 2012

A few deer were harmed in the creation of this column

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer

Friday, November 30, 2012 — Let me just start by saying that if you’re a big fan of Bambi or other creatures frolicking through the fields and forests, you might want to tread carefully while reading this column.

I don’t like deer. I despise deer. I hold animosity toward them. Deer are an abomination and I hold a severe abhorrence and disgust toward them.

Let me backtrack for a second. I don’t exactly hate deer. I love deer … with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, a few deviled eggs, a roll and some desert. After that, I REALLY don’t like them.

My disdain for these vile creatures can be traced to the fact that it seems deer spend more time on the highways than your average driver. They obviously can’t read because you never see any of them collaborating near a deer crossing sign. And they all obviously are rebels, living on the edge by deciding not to look both ways before crossing the road.

Instead, deer seem to like the approach of the old arcade game Frogger when crossing the road … stepping out into traffic, running left, right, backwards then forwards between cars all in an attempt to get to the other side. Meanwhile, horns are going off and vehicles are swerving to avoid the menacing creatures.

Most of the time they make it across, but often they’ll end up as a big red X on the highway.

I’ve had three instances being on the delivery side of that big red X on the highway, all during my now 24-year newspaper career. My first encounter ended up being an obstacle course of 8-10 deer who thought it a good idea to hold an annual Elk’s Club gathering in the middle of the highway at 4 a.m. I didn’t actually hit any of those “precious” creatures, but I did take out a mailbox with my car and ended up in a ditch while trying to avoid playing a game of chicken with them.

My second encounter was a fairly rude one not too many years later. It was mid-November and this deer obviously was depressed about the holidays. It decided to commit hari- kari by jumping directly into the left side of my car on a dirt road. I never saw him coming and, to this day, I don’t know if that beast just floated up to deer heaven or ran away with nothing more than a splitting headache.

Meanwhile, my car was smoking worse than a 50-year-old truck driver sitting in front of a “free cigarettes” booth at a rest stop.

Just recently, I converted the hat trick of deer collisions. I was just a few miles from my house when a deer decided it just couldn’t wait to see what was on the other side of the highway. He jumped in front of me and I hit him with the right side of my car. Something flew up in the air, likely my car’s grill (and probably not the deer; kids … I didn’t hit Cupid or Blitzen). Meanwhile, I’m sure that deer simply walked away snickering and exchanging high-fives as he no doubt joined his buddies on the other side. I say that because he was nowhere to be found when I pulled my car over, just before calling my insurance company.

Now I realize it’s hunting season and these deer are likely running for their lives, in some cases. But I don’t believe this is the case early in the morning when I apparently am most prone to deer collisions.

I support hunters in many ways. My brother-in-law is an avid hunter and has killed many deer in his life.

I have, too, just with a motor vehicle instead of a Winchester Model 70 rifle.

I read an article in The Charlotte Observer that said the combination of deer hormones and a larger number of motor vehicles on the highway is contributing to the number of deer accidents. In fact, state transportation officials in North Carolina told that newspaper there’s been an average of 19,500 animal-related crashes in each of the last three years, 90 percent involving deer.

According to numbers from the N.C. Department of Transportation from 2009-2011, Stanly County was 30th in the state with 847 deer-vehicle crashes. Cabarrus County was 32nd with 764 and Mecklenburg County was 10th with 1,258.

I drive to Charlotte six days a week. Those numbers definitely don’t play in my favor … unless I decide to quit my jobs and start a tow-truck service.

The only perk to hitting a deer is I got to drive a luxurious 2013 Nissan Altima while my car was being fixed. This car was so nice, I was embarrassed when I would sneeze in it or when I would forget to brush my teeth. I had more people come up to me about that car than at any point in my life.

The car also had the same effect with the deer, as I must have had a half-dozen more encounters with them during that stretch. Lucky for them and me, my reaction times were much better.

Deer season in Stanly and surrounding counties runs through Jan. 1 for all weapons. So, it’s likely you’ll continue to encounter your fair share of deer on the road, too. So be careful out there and watch where you drive.

Because, it’s obvious, the deer out there certainly are not.