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.
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.