The Deer Story

September 16, 2013

All Posts, Editorials, News

This story usually runs in October but it is has been getting bloody early this year.

Last Wednesday an Hesperia, Michigan man named Larry Tingley, died after his 2005 Harley struck a deer in Ferry Township, Michigan. The week before that an unidentified Army Staff Sergeant stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey died after a deer ran into his Harley. Last week, a Saint James, Minnesota man named Randall L. Lang died when his 1997 Harley hit a deer.

And also last week, in Albion, New York a man named Luis R. Soto-Thomas hit a deer on his 2002 Harley, slid for 225 feet and survived. Soto-Thomas was airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester where he was reported to be in serious condition. Police cited Soto-Thomas for third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation and operation without a license. His court date is pending his recovery.

Last night a couple on a Kawasaki in Barnwell County, South Carolina died when they hit a deer.

Beware Big Bambi Rats

So it is time to nag you again that packs of big Bambi rats are out there gathering by the sides of the roads, drunk on fermented berries, blinded by their lust for female Bambi rats, terrified of and furious about the hunters that are chasing them out of the deep forest and in the twilight, a man on a motorcycle almost looks small enough to take.

Only about two percent of car-deer collisions result in human injuries but three quarters of the bikers who hit a deer win an ambulance or helicopter ride. No, you ambulance or helicopter ride will probably not be free. Ten thousand people are injured in deer collisions annually. The accidents peak in October and November. Half of these accidents occurred in 10 states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Indiana and South Carolina.

Deer whistles won’t protect you. Deer don’t care about loud pipes. Deer have evolved to avoid wolves, not motorcycles.

Deer react to your proximity. They will simply stand there in the shadows until you get within about 60 feet of them. Once you invade a deer’s personal space, he usually jumps straight ahead then runs in random zig-zags so you can’t avoid him. Speeding up doesn’t help either because that only increases the severity of a collision. The best you can do is slow down in deer country, brake hard the instant you recognize that unusual tree has big ears and don’t swerve.

Don’t Swerve

At 65 miles per hour you and your motorcycle cover about 100 feet every second. Once a deer reacts to you will have about half a second to react back.

According to a Cornell University professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering named Lynne Irwin the best place to hit a deer is in the flanks because “rib bones are flexible” and will absorb more of the impact than the hips.

And, finally, as we remind readers every time we do this story, if you hit a 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 are all yours.

So be careful, practice braking and if the worst happens enjoy your venison. Stay alive so you can come back next year and read a slightly different version of this story then.


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30 Responses to “The Deer Story”

  1. JRS Says:

    In 05 I went to Daytona to sell bikes during bike week. Cheap ass owner of our shop wouldn’t pay for a motel, his aunt had a run down trailer somewhere around lake George state park. After answering the same questions all day about the same bikes, were driving to the trailer exhausted, fortunately we were in an F350, I counted 58 deer on a 35 mile drive. Never hit one with my bike, but in 85 while living in Durango I hit a bull elk’s left rear hip at @ 65 in a turbo trans am, fortunately it flipped him up and away from me – if he would have come straight in the wind shield I would have probably would have died. The bottom of that suckers belly was higher than the hood of the TA. Had 2 friends hit deer in Georgia, fortunately for them they survived. When I was selling bikes I always told people deer horror stories at this time of year and cautioned them the deer were out.

  2. RVN69 Says:

    Glad your son his home safe. Thank him for me for his service.

    Gen. Mattis was a true warrior and leader of men, not like some of the other “CEO” Generals. He reminds me most of Chestty Puller and Lew Walt. They were both true warriors and leaders of men and that is why they never made Commandant. Puller and Walt had 6 Navy Crosses between them! They knew the cost of war on the men who fought it and lead them accordingly.

    Semper Fi.

  3. Austin Says:

    “Be nice, be polite, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet”

    Hey RVN69 – glad you survived your encounters – Yikes!

    I hadn’t though how appropriate that comment is stateside these days. I told me son “you need to be in a Constant state of readiness” when he went to the sandbox back in 2003. I also told him – if he was thinking about shooting – it probably too late. I know he had to make a few fast decisions over there – but he’s back home and they are not.

    Mattis also said this better;
    The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

  4. RVN69 Says:

    Considering the miles I have ridden I have been lucky to only have 2 run in’s with deer and 1 with a cow.

    1977 riding back from a bar with an old war buddy, I got a 75 FXE, he’s on a 76 XLH, we are both flying both literaly and figuratively it’s dark with no street lights, come around a slight turn in the road and there stands a cow . We both lay the bikes over hard left to try to clear the cow in the opposite lane, I clear it and my buddy almost does, he clips it’s head with his right hand. Broke his hand in a couple of places it fucked with his work, he was a self employed mason but he didn’t drop the bike.

    2000, riding on a back road between Rapid City and a little town called Lead on my 60FLH never saw the mule deer running down the hill to my right until he leaped over my front tire, hell I didn’t even react until he was already past me. Just blind luck I didn’t hit it broadside.

    2004 ridinng the Blue Ridge Parkway with my wife, come around a blind turn at around 25mph, whitetail jumps of the hill to my left and turns to run right in front of me. He is slipping and sliding on the blacktop and I am trying not to run up his ass, my front tire is maybe 6 inches from his ass when he turns right and runs down the hill. My wife nearly had a heart attack, and I think I may have pinched a button hole in my seat.

    “Be nice, be polite, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet”

  5. Nags Says:

    Don’t get me wrong I love deer. Fried back straps with morel mushrooms and taters is a meal fit for a king! I haven’t bought red meat from a store in 15 yes. They Definetly have their place. On the table, not in front of my scooter.

  6. stroker Says:

    Deer: FFFT (Furry Four Footed terrorists)

    @House: Best wishes for your speedy recovery.

  7. Grumbler Says:

    @HOUSE – Am located in Southwest Idaho, and was riding right behind my bud on northbound ID-21 near Rush Creek several years ago when a full grown elk scampered downhill and crossed the road right in front of him.

    He was too focused on the Boise County Sheriff SUV ahead of us to notice that elk. Didn’t help that he’s color blind. He plowed into it and went down. Had to ride by him and block the oncoming lane before I could help him and move his sled to the shoulder.

    He was basically okay, but cost him a couple of thousand in repairs due to having only liability instead of full coverage insurance.

    BTW, I noticed plenty of forest rats between Kingston and Thompson Falls via CdA River Rd (NF-9) and Prospect Creek Rd (NF-7) … helluva ride after slamming cold ones at The Snake Pit in Enaville.

  8. HOUSE Says:

    @ Ronbo… already back up on two wheels, still a bit sore sometimes. Yeah the weather up here has been interesting. And you need your head on a swivel up here around the Reservation and the railroad on stilts.

    @ Sled Tramp… b, c & d… I agree 100%

    @ Blacksmith and 10 Gauge… Thanks


  9. 10guage Says:


    I hope you heel up quickly. Good to hear it was not worse. Those big,dumb, horned, rats are tasty but no fun to encounter on the super slab. Had one jump out on me a few years back when riding with my family. The ol man is always bitching about having enough space and being staggered. For once he was right and we all had a laugh at the next bar. Glad I wasn’t in the pack!

    When ever you hit a cattle guard make sure your head is on a swivel especially on the coast here in Cali. Those sons oft bitches aren’t near as fast but they are just as dumb and nort of Jenner those ranches aren’t fenced in many places…same as the hills and mountains north of Chico and many places on 395… You come flying around a corner especially at night it’s like hitting a brick wall.


  10. blacksmith Says:

    I hope you heal quickly.
    I cut across Idaho into Montana three weeks ago on the 2. A doe on the side of the road to my right raised her head and started to move, but luckly went back toward the tree line. Crusing along at 75mph, I would imagine that would of been my demise. Not a good feeling for the next mile or so, but better than the alternative.

  11. Street Glider Says:

    I think anyone that rides has had a close encounter with with a deer or two.
    Mine came about 11:00 one night going through a wooded area at 55 mph when one of those bastards jumped out. Locked up the break into a full skid and just missed his ass. I was so pissed off thought about turning around and unloading a clip into the woods just to see if I could get lucky and hit him. But after not going down, figured I’d count my blessings and take my lucky ass home.
    Ride safe..

  12. YYZ Skinhead Says:


    Deer and horses are Einsteins compared to the idiot cage monkeys here in Hell Lay. When I drove, if I saw a bike I always gave it a load of space. I think most cagers in Hell see a bullseye on the back of anyone on two wheels.

    YYZ Skinhead

  13. Phuquehed Says:

    I’ve had a couple scary-as-shit close encounters with them, but still can’t bring myself to hate them. At least they feed me (or I should say ‘fed’ me since I can’t get out to hunt them anymore), whereas there’s far, far more asshat cage drivers out there who put me in similar or worse situations at least once every time I’m out riding…and all of them, so far, are fucking pussies because I’ve not yet had one stop and pull over when I called them on their stupid shit (like yesterday…fucking pussy had all kinds of balls to keep riding my ass, but when I slam on the brakes the guy on the passenger side hung halfway out the window shouting some shit at me. I slowed down and hollered back to pull in to the parking lot ahead…of course they passed me as soon as I was off the road and of course too flipped me off. I was on their ass in a flash and *yelling* that they were pussies all the way through my little town. Funny how suddenly they weren’t flipping me off anymore. Whewn I turned around I stopped at the small convenience store to get something to drink and the owner said he heard me even inside the store all the way in the back in the kitchen, lol).

    So, yeah, deer are a bitch, but more of us get killed from asshole cagers than the deer who don’t know any better (deer are as stupid as horses, and horses really are a stupid animal).

  14. Nags Says:

    As someone who clipped a deer at 60mph and got away with a broken ankle and some road rash and was also a friend of Larry this hit close to home. He was a senior mech at the local Harley dealer and a Vietnam vet. He was a dying breed of man and will be sorely missed. Hopefully everyone keeps the shiny side up and stays between the white lines.

  15. sled tramp Says:

    I hit a deer at 65mph,rode it out with my leg 180 reversed.Story was posted a couple years ago.Here’s what I learned…
    A) You can’t keep the deer in Orygun.Not that it mattered after 5 days in the hospital.
    B) Deer whistles don’t work BUT ultra sonic deer sirens do.They send a square wave out and I’ve seen many a Bambi shake their heads and trot away on the side of the road.Probably saved me a few times anyway.
    C)Deer move with you.Picture a flock of birds in flight turning as one and you get the idea.Don’t try to swerve,lay it down if you have to,if you’ve ever seen what a deer does-even a small deer-to a car,picture a bike.I got lucky,you probably won’t.
    D) I hate fucking deer.

  16. JMacK Says:

    Glad you’re still here to tell the story House.

    Living in Alberta and riding to BC and the Northwest regularly, I’m sure my time is coming. I’ve dodged or had to react in one way or another to dozens of the fucking things. My biggest fear is the goddamn swamp donkeys up here. Friggin moose are even more unpredictable and more deceptive because they look so aloof. But they’re taller so even more dangerous.



  17. Glenn S. Says:

    They’re fucking everywhere around where I work. Some rich animal lover fed the goddamn things in some thick woods he owned between Greenville and Mauldin, kept the land pristine for his pets. Then he died and the heirs sold the land for development. Ain’t nothing for me to leave work around midnight and see a herd of deer in the front lawn in front of the factory where I work.

  18. Freeman Says:

    She really couldn’t do anything about it, that happened about 20 miles from where i live, my condolences to the family.

  19. Road Whore Says:

    I hate fucking deer!

    Ride free…and careful!

  20. Ronbo Says:

    House, Yep the deer are thick down here in Salmon too. Hope you heal up good and get a bike ready by spring. Shit load of thunder and lightning here last couple of days.

    Really, Head on a swivel


  21. HOUSE Says:

    About 8 weeks ago an hour after last call, I hit a big doe a couple miles from my house on Hwy 95 in Northern Idaho. From the time I saw her to the moment of impact I had about one second to grab the brakes and utter my favorite four lettered “F” word… I figure I hit her at about 60 mph. She had jumped out of a ditch and ran across the road from left to right. I was riding my 01 Road King with 20” apes. I hit her in the front shoulder and the impact swung the rest of her body around and under my left arm and into my left side breaking my ribs. I remember trying to keep the bike up and breaking hard. We (I mean me and the deer) ended up high siding the bike, and I ended up sliding on top of the deer for about 20 yards. I was awarded for my acrobatic prowess with a ride in an ambulance and a totaled motorcycle. I came out of it lucky, I ended up with two broken ribs, a cracked sternum, a dozen stitches in my left arm and various patches of road rash, But able to walk, conscious and able to give a thumbs up to my Brothers standing outside the Emergency Room.
    I have retold this story what seems like a hundred times over the last eight weeks and every time I have been asked… “so did you save the deer?” Although Idaho does allow you to salvage your road kill and even though the packages of venison and elk in my freezer are growing scarce, I must admit… the last thing I was thinking about while I laid on the Hwy sucking wind with broken ribs was skinning out that fucking deer.
    Hunting Season starts up here in less than four weeks and for the first time I will be toting my rifle out into the woods not with simply thoughts of self sufficiency and freedom but maybe with a tinge of vengeance…

    Ride safe and Respect to those that deserve it…

  22. Vikingtrotter Says:

    I remember a few times riding Latigo Cyn road in Malibu. I came upon deer. The first time was a 6-piont buck and I slowed way down because it was rutting season. He was acting pretty squirley. The second time was actually quite cool and I wish I had one of those geeky video cams on my helmet. I was heading up the mid part of Latigo and 3 doe’s(or Hind’s if you are Russian) followed be a single buck and they surrounded me on my bike and ran with me for a good 300 feet. I could have reached out and touched them. It was a super cool experience.

  23. tiger Says:

    Damn! It brings back bad memories for me. June 17 1993.. Left work at 5 am near Flint mi. Was walking out wearing chaps, my jacket and gloves. Hit the door and thought “Damn it’s fucking warm. I’m going to strip this shit off”. Got to my 89 Electra Sport. You know the ugly ones with the windshield off. Then thought “Screw it. I want to get home.” Pulled out after my warm up and got in to it. Heard a noise off my right and turn my head. BAM! Air borne, then stars, then fucking sliding and sliding and sliding. I thought everything had gone slow moe. Turned my head and saw sparks coming and curled. The fucking bike hit a pothole and flipped onto me then off. I finally stopped. I was in pain in my whole body. Looked down the road and watched the light change to green for the plant and here came some late comers leaving. I tried to roll off the road and could barely move. i saw stars everytime I got on my right side. I raised my hand waving it with the palm and fingers wore off from the slide. The lights just kept on coming faster and faster. Then I heard brakes. When Linda’s car stopped I was able to see the rust pits in her bumper. I will tell you I would have been ok if the damn bike had not hit me. Right collar bone snapped, three broken ribs, two were behind my shoulder blades, concussion, and road rash on my hands. So anyone who thinks they only run this time of year beware. They are always running. So be safe and beware. I am now. respects Tiger

  24. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    That dude’s screams are harrowing.

    What is the smallest vehicle that can hit a deer and survive the collision? I recall seeing what was probably a California mule deer with rigor mortis leaning upside down on the wall in the middle of the freeway between San Fran and Petaluma.

    Rebel, props for the Alice in Chains video.

    YYZ Skinhead

  25. Sieg Says:

    R.I.P. Kelly, GBNF

    5 to 1

  26. CN Says:

    I always hear aim for its ass because they can’t run backwards, seems to me you’d end up, up it’s ass but that’s what I was told. Down here there’s tons of the suicidal bastards hanging out by the side of the road now through January & if you’re lookin’ their eyes usually reflect your headlight(s). Southern white tails are smaller than their northern muel deer cousins but geographical differences don’t seem to effect intelligence. Had one once come running next to me in a 35 mph zone and keep up before lunging towards my bike. I contend these kamikaze sumbitches know exactly what they’re doing and I don’t understand why hunting season isn’t year round and rewards aren’t given for anybody who caps one or more. Good hunting!

  27. sherides Says:

    I hate deer

    Be careful out there everyone.


  28. Panhead Says:

    Who was it in here used to say “head on a swivel?” Was it Base?
    A lot of Deer here in the south too. I try to watch for em.

    “Head on a swivel”



  29. Tim D. Says:

    there’s a lot of deer where I live, I have been pretty lucky throughout the years, I am glad that that deer jumped over the dude riding on the HWY, that was wild, I bet he stopped for a calm down pill after that or a big shot of whiskey, felt sorry for the other guy who hit the deer in the video, man!! thanks for the info Rebel. Tim D.

  30. Freeman Says:

    True slow down in deer country, also true when hit is inevitable and you see you will hit it in the flank, try to raise the front wheel and go over it, one way or another you will probably will fall off.

    The way it happened to me going over it was better then stopping short and going over the handles, last in line is YOU, judge it, if it happens, hope it never does, you have a split second to make the decision.

    Meat is yours yes, but i was in no condition/frame of mind to empty the rest of bambie up and hang it upside down.

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