It is that time again. Deer call this motorcycle season.
About three weeks earlier than last year, young and middle-aged male deer have begun to flock to the fermented berry patches. They are all eager to hook up. None of them wants to be the sad, old buck still standing there all alone at closing time. And, the drunker they get the stupider they get. Just like you. So as soon as a motorcycle putts into view it is inevitable that one of those bucks will shout, “Hey Bambi! Watch this!”
There have been at least five motorcycle-deer collisions in the last five days.
The Bad News
Victoria M. Clark, 51, wound up in the Salina Regional Health Center after a deer dashed from the side of Interstate Highway 135 in Kansas and ran into the motorcycle she was riding last week. Clark was in the back seat. The rider, 35-year-old Tad Clark, was not hurt.
Robert Dane Owen, 40, was riding eastbound on U.S. 60 in Oklahoma when a deer ran into his 2003 Harley. Owen flew 37 feet through the air after he lost control of his bike and is listed in stable condition with head, trunk and arm injuries.
The least amusing deer collision of the last few days was in South Carolina. Jerry Robert Briggs, 52, was riding north on State Highway 702 when a deer ran into him and knocked him off the road. Briggs was thrown from his bike and died.
The same thing happened to Jared Andreasen, 21, of Quincy, Illinois. He was riding his bike on U.S. 61 near Palmyra, Missouri last week when a deer ran into him. Andreason also ran off the road and left his bike but he survived with minor injuries.
And, a 46-year-old oil field salesman from Alice, Texas named Shawn Ritchie was riding his 2006 Road King on Interstate 90 near Greycliff, Montana last week when he had his own close encounter of the Cervidae kind. Ritchie was going about 75 and he suffered a broken left shoulder, broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and a bruised kidney. The collision also totaled his motorcycle and cut the deer in half.
Just parenthetically, Ritchie was not wearing a helmet and he did suffer a slight head injury. He got a scrape on the back of his head when his riding companion, Justin Buckminster, dragged him out of traffic by his legs.
A Few Statistics
The State Farm Insurance Company disseminates a press release about the deer menace every year. According to this year’s release, the frequency of deer-motor vehicle collisions has jumped 18 percent in the last five years. On average, a motor vehicle hits a deer every 26 seconds but most of those collisions occur during the months of October, November and December.
And, you are most likely to collide with a deer in, in order of likelihood, West Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Montana. Your odds of hitting a deer in West Virginia are 1 in 39. Your chances of hitting one in Hawaii are 1 in 9,931. About 150 people die in deer collisions in the United States every year.
A Few Reminders
When you see a deer the last thing you want to do is counter steer because when you move the deer moves. And riding across the road increases your chances of hitting a tree, a ditch or a fence even if you miss the deer. So whatever you do, don’t counter steer. Try to brake to a stop, but if you have to hit the deer hit the deer as squarely as possible.
Deer whistles do not work.
And if you kill the deer you get to eat it. Whether you have a hunting license or not, in most states the meat still belongs to you. The meat, the antlers and the skin, the whole damn thing, is all yours.
So be careful and enjoy your barbeque.