A Deer Tried To Murder Me Today (Spoiler: I’m Fine)

The attempt was made roughly an hour ago, as the deer stood in my lane at a bend in the road, giving me almost no time to register that it was there, much less do anything about it. Even so, I managed to both swerve away from the thing and still stay on the road, for which I credit years of video games giving me some creditable twitch reflexes — not good enough to fend off getting sniped by swear-laden 13-year-old boys in Overwatch, but good enough to miss a dear just hanging out in the road because what else is there to do when you’re a deer, I suppose.

Anyway, I’m fine, the car is fine and the deer is fine, or at least was the last I saw of it, although I’m still riding a bit of an adrenaline spike and am waiting to crash down. When I do I suspect I will sleep for 12 hours straight.

So that’s me this fine Monday. How are you?

— JS

42 Comments on “A Deer Tried To Murder Me Today (Spoiler: I’m Fine)”

  1. I had a near miss last week coming home from work. Luckily, I was in a 30 mph zone and the deer bolted when I hit the brakes. It DOES get the heart going! Glad you’re both OK,

  2. Nice reactions. Deer are, through ‘kamikaze attacks’ on cars and other motor vehicles, kill the most humans in North America every year of every animal.

    So congrats on not being a check box on some deer’s clans kill board.

  3. If you’d taken the subway while you were in New York, it could have been a hulking psycho trying to push you on the track. I’ll take my chances with the deer.

  4. Wait, didn’t one of the most dangerous extraterrestrials in “Old Man’s War” look like nice little innocent deer?

    Maybe you were luckier than you think.

  5. Glad to hear that everyone/everything came out safely.

    Deer are a major road hazard in my state, especially at this time of year. I try to avoid driving at dawn or dusk, in fact, because even in the urban area where I live, a deer will occasionally dart across a road when I least expect it.

    Be safe and sleep well.

  6. I once crested a hill on a rural two-lane road, at night, to find two deer crossing the road, single file, one in each lane. In the eighth of a second I had to react, the deer in the left lane took a step forward, opening a gap between them—so, with no other option, I steered into the gap.

    The deer on the right then took a step forward.

    There was a loud bang, which woke my passenger (who, as it happened, was the owner of the car). I came to a semi-controlled stop in the ditch on the left side of the road, and we got out to assess the damage: A piece of trim on the rear right wheel well had come off. While we were assessing, the deer (who at this point was ~100 yards behind us) got up and trotted off as if nothing had happened.

    This was about 30 years ago, and that eighth of a second is etched into my memory more clearly than most of the decade before or after.

  7. I’m glad you missed it.

    I got a clean bill of health from the Dentist. This is amazing. I’d like to thank my Electric toothbrush.

  8. When a deer runs across the road in front of you, do not look after it–look in the direction from which it came. There’s likely to be one or more waiting for you to look after the first one, so the rest can jump out in front of you while you’re distracted.

  9. Glad you’re okay. Have had some scary almost accidents with deer jumping across highways. Stealthy assassins, i tell ya

  10. dlc – I have no idea if this snippet is real, but I have no doubt it could be [based on similar incidents in my experience]

  11. Sometimes one’s spirit animal can just show up at the strangest times. ;-)

    Glad you (and the deer) are okay.

  12. Yikes, glad you are ok! My cousin once totaled her car hitting a deer, and wound up in the hospital.

  13. Ohio (at least parts of it) is considered a deer hunting Mecca of sorts. Plenty of deer, in large sizes with big antlers. Draws out-of-staters from all over the east coast.

    But yeah, a ‘close miss’ will get your heart pumping!

  14. The deer pretty much always wins. True story follows:

    When I was in junior high school (several decades ago now), my family was driving east down a mountain pass in NE Washington early one winter’s evening, on the way back from a day trip. We were in a classic Volkswagen bus, and this being winter, there was snow all around and the road was somewhat icy. And as we rounded a curve, what should we find crossing the road but…

    …yup, a deer.

    The next bit took possibly thirty seconds to a minute in real time, but it was a very loooong 30-60 seconds….

    My father applied brakes. We did a surprisingly neat 180-degree spin around the deer, such that the bus was now pointed up the road. The deer, having in fact gotten across the road once, now also reversed course and started back. I have a very clear memory here of my POV snapping abruptly backward such that observer-me was fifty feet or so behind the car, such that I had a freeze-frame view of the VW with the deer running back and forth across the road in front of it, much like a target in a first-person shooter.

    As my POV snapped back into the bus, the neat 180-degree spin devolved into an equally neat roll, such that we went through two full sideways revolutions down the steep, forested embankment on what was at that point the left side of the road, finally coming to rest right-side up against a tree some 50-100 feet down the hill from the highway.

    Impressively, our gear had been sufficiently well-stowed that pretty much nothing had been disarranged; likewise, my parents, my brother, and I had all been seat-belted and were entirely unhurt. The family dog had not been belted in and had therefore been the one moving object in the back seat during the episode, but even he wasn’t seriously injured.

    By sheer good luck, since we’d spun halfway around before rolling, the VW had landed with its rear sliding door on the uphill side rather than against the tree, so we were able to get out of the car and clamber up the hill, where a truck driver stopped and took us down to the nearest gas station/mini-market. The subsequent police report also noted that we’d been very fortunate to have landed against that particular tree, elsewise we’d likely have gone over a much steeper edge and plummeted several hundred feet before making a much, much messier landing. The deer, of course, escaped wholly unscathed, while the VW bus was declared a total loss.

    My mother declared afterward that we weren’t buying any more VW buses (that one had been our second). As a direct result, the vehicle that replaced it was an International (Harvester) Travelall, which we promptly dubbed the Great Green Gas Guzzler. This later proved extremely useful for packing high school graduates off to college and back. It also evidently came with the optional Subsonic Anti-Deer Atractor™ feature, because I don’t think we ever so much as saw a deer again once we’d acquired it.

    Sadly, I don’t think anyone is still making Travelalls, else I’d suggest the city of Ashland invest in a few. (David Avery is not wrong; I was in Ashland just a couple of weeks ago, and there were deer in residence right downtown, evidently staying at the hotel right next door to mine.)

  15. We love in rural Norfolk, England. My neighbour had a car written off by a deer. It ran out of the trees in front of him, and the A-pillar t it on the neck, beheading it and spraying all inside with blood.

    The head ended up on the parcel shelf, having flown between all the passengers, and the A-pillar was bent causing the roof to sag.

    The inside of the car looked like a psycho had gone crazy with a bucket of pluck. But nobody (apart from the very surprised looking deer) was hurt.

  16. Damned predictive text – we LIVE in Norfolk, but I do love it here for the peace and quiet.

  17. Yikes! Glad everyone involved is OK. I’ve had a few driving incidents like that. Nerves shot, eyes wide open indefinitely.

    Currently I live in a small town and don’t own a vehicle. Work has been quiet, but I’m reading The Last Colony and that’s adding some excitement.

  18. Glad you avoided casualty for all concerned.
    Years ago (many, many, many), my brother was cruising down a country road when a deer dove through the open window on the passenger side. It then proceeded to do the tasmanian devil dance all over him. The car ended up in the ditch and the deer continued to pummel him with its hooves until he was able to open the door and fall to the ground.
    Not sure what happened to the deer but he ended up spending a week or two in the hospital recovering from the incident. All body damage was from the deer.
    These critters are as dumb as squirrels when it comes to oncoming traffic.

  19. Glad everyone (and everything) is okay.

    Around here (Nebraska) we’ve found that it’s not the deer currently in the road that are the problem. Back in 2017, I wrapped my car around a deer that was mid-leap out of the roadside ditch. Pretty sure it only saw me about the same time I saw it, which was somewhere around the first ‘h’ in “Oh, shucks” (or something similar). About a week later a deer leaping off a roadside hill landed on the hood of my wife’s truck — that was reparable but when she described the deer landing on her truck and then running off, the insurance adjuster wondered whether the collision was with one of Santa’s reindeer.

    Then there was the guy who struck one of our neighbor’s cows…

  20. We live in deer/elk country as my wife is an astronomer. She totaled her car on an elk the Fall before the Pandemic, fortunately insurance was able to process things quickly and we were able to replace the car before the lockdown. She wasn’t injured but was very badly shaken, the elk did not survive.

    At the observatory, you’re not considered to have truly ‘arrived’ until you’ve had at least one elk encounter with your car, doesn’t have to be totaled. In one case, person stopped for a party (what we call it when a half dozen or more deer/elk are stopped on the road and just meandering), and one backed up and sat on the hood of their car!

  21. I’m retired. I was going to make a big deal out of my wretched life, feeling cranky at how I am sitting in the dark reading this instead of going out for a coffee to start my day.

    But I see my morning is trivial compared to commenters hitting a deer. I’ll go get that coffee now…

  22. I’m fine, too, thank you for asking.

    The deer around here (coastal Nova Scotia) are a more murderous bunch. One jumped in front of me as I rounded a bend last Wednesday, but that was just the closest call. On a typical evening, I’ll see 3 to 6 on the 10 mile stretch of road between home and the main highway, many of them actually in the road. It’s hunting season, deers! Go deeper into the woods.

    Though last night, the only wildlife sighting on the road was a red fox (who I’ve seen before in the same spot). What a beauty.

  23. Makes a better story than a life experience.

    MY experience is that the people are fine, the deer is either fine or supper (get the police permission first), and the car is a loss.
    For the record I’m not the driver in most of my experiences.

  24. I live in the country too, and have had many encounters with deer. Three of them involved major impacts that required car repair. I’m glad yours didn’t.

  25. A friend of ours hit a deer and totaled his car several years ago. Despite having smaller than average deer (ours are axis, rather than white- or black-tail) a hundred fifty pounds of venison still did a number on the front of his car. When we lived in OH, DH and I frequently saw whole herds trotting along the side of the road around dusk, looking for a car to fling themselves in front of.

    Deer are the suicide bombers of the animal kingdom.

  26. Does no one else on this blog know about deer whistles? Out here (southwestern Colorado), we have big mule deer–not your little Ohio whitetails–and more car/deer encounters total the car (and, alas, the deer) than not.

    Deer whistles are little plastic gizmos that you install on your front bumper in pairs; together they produce a discordant almost-ultrasonic (16-20 kHz) whistle from the airflow anytime you’re going more than about 30 mph. Some say they scare the deer, others that they just get their attention; some say they work, some say they don’t. FWIW, we’ve never hit a deer in a car that had them (although we see them–and, apparently, they us–often), and once did hit one ($3500 damage back when that was real money) when we didn’t.

    At least around here anyone who hit a deer knew to call our neighbor who was a state wildlife rehabilitator–she’d go out in her old van, winch the fresh road kill inside, and take it home to her two mountain lions.

    Get the whistles! >$10 at any car parts place or online–you could be saving big bucks (ambiguity intentional).

  27. Deer whistles work a as long as almost nobody uses them.
    Once they are common, the deer get acclimated to them as just another background noise, apparently.

  28. Reading the comments has been a real learning experience! I grew up in rural Ohio and spent my summers in the Adirondacks, but I have somehow never had the full-on deer experience.

    In the Adirondacks we are more annoyed by flocks of turkeys hanging out on the road and refusing to move, like surly teenagers.

    I’m very glad you and the car are all right.

  29. My dad got in his only automobile accident in the past year when he hit a deer in the road at night, never saw the thing until it was too late. The deer died and did significant damage to the car, but thankfully my dad was unharmed. It’s the only insurance claim he’s ever had to make in his life.

  30. We are all glad you are well.

    Attempting to find the silver lining in a week filled with planet-wide shitstorms, you now have basis of your next novel in the “Starter Villain” series, “Assassination By Deer”… or maybe “Suicidal Venison”…?

  31. Love the Deer Crossing Sign plea. I remember all too well once praying earnestly for sure-footedness as a big Mule Deer leaped across the highway in front of my little Subaru Justy, braking all the while. All safe, then. Glad you are too.

  32. I have my own story to tell, only it was a moose, not a deer. (I live in Norway.) It was dark, there was freezing rain, and a ton of traffic coming the other way. Plus, I was tired, yet had about six hours of driving to get home. I could hardly see a thing, when suddenly I noticed this moose standing in the road ahead. This was before ABS brakes, so I pumped the brake pedal like mad and managed to bring the car to a stop with a few meters to spare. At this point there was a break in the oncoming traffic, and the moose calmly moved on and disappeared into the trees on my left.

    But the adrenaline kick! It kept me wide awake for much of the trip home. Thanks for that, moose.

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