The deer call these late fall days “motorcycle hunting season.”
The end of October and beginning of November is mating season in the deer world. Whether you can see them or not, if you are riding a country road they see you. They are standing just inside the tree line, getting drunk on fermented berries. And, by the time they see you they are either giddy from their latest sexual conquest or despondent over the fact that, once again, it is closing time they are leaving that fermented berry patch all alone.
Maybe the giddy ones feel invincible. Maybe the despondent ones are committing suicide. Some people even claim that deer are just stupid on the subject of highways.
For whatever reason, if you are one of those people who insist on reasons, about ten motorcycle-deer collisions made the news in the last week which means that there were probably 20 more that did not make the news.
About a third of the collisions were fatal and there is nothing funny about them. Every single motorcycle fatality is tragic to someone.
On the other hand, some of the non-fatal collisions are sort of droll.
The Deer And The Other Deer
For example, last Tuesday night Michael Reed, 57, of Canandaigua, NY was riding west on the New York Thruway between Exits 42 and 43 when a deer ran out in front him, stopped, froze and glared with that arrogant glare that drunk, horny deer have. Reed braked but he could not stop in time and wound up hitting the deer.
The deer died. Reed lived.
Reed suffered what were described as “facial and leg injuries” and a riding companion called 911. The ambulance arrived, picked up Reed and headed for the nearest hospital, Clifton Springs.
A doctor at that hospital, however, cautioned the paramedics that Reed might have a head injury. So, in mid-course the ambulance diverted to a bigger hospital in Rochester.
Which was about the time the ambulance hit another drunken, horny deer. The ambulance sustained a crumpled hood and a broken grill and headlight and was determined to be undrivable.
So a second ambulance was called. And, that emergency vehicle managed to get Reed to a hospital without colliding with yet another deer. But, it does say something telling about the mood the deer are in these days that it took two tries.
Reed was listed as being in satisfactory condition the next day, by the way. If you live in Rochester send him a card. And, whatever you do, watch out for them deer.
According to the State Farm Insurance Company “deer-related vehicle collisions have risen almost 6% from the last deer season.” State Farm policy holders have run into 192,877 deer in the last year.
Ten states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Indiana and South Carolina account for slightly more than half of all the accidents reported to State Farm. And, the time when these accidents are most likely to occur is at dusk and at night.
What To Do
One of the problems motorcyclists have with deer is that experienced bikers instinctively do the wrong thing. Somewhere along the line, everybody learns the maxim that “to avoid an obstacle you should swerve by executing a sharp counter steer.” Yeah, right.
Motorcycle “safety courses” always teach this. When you see the pile of bricks fall off the truck in front of you just push one of your grips hard. It does not matter which way you go. Just push as hard as you can and trust the bike to veer you around the obstacle.
But, 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.
Two more bits of advice.
* 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.