Two deer lived a charmed life last week, avoiding a too close and personal meeting with the front of my car en route to New London on State 54.
Alert driving had nothing to do with these deer dodging the scythe of the Grim Reaper.
Both deer appeared in view of my headlights and disappeared into the left ditch before I was able to move a muscle, although my heart did jump into my throat.
Statistics show most car-deer accidents from March to June occur from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Both encounters were about 6 a.m. about four miles apart.
The first was Monday at the curve adjacent to the cemetery entering Royalton. Only a few yards separated my car from a semi heading in the opposite direction. This deer must have set a new speed record as it not only left a few hairs on my car as it crossed the road but also avoided the semi, which also did not slow.
Adult deer reportedly can run as fast as 40 miles per hour.
A slow motion replay took place three days later entering Northport when a deer trotted out of the right ditch to nonchalantly cross the road. Luckily there was no oncoming vehicle that certainly would have resulted in another statistic.
According to the state Department of Transportation, deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin – behind another vehicle and a fixed object.
A national auto insurer says the number of reported collisions between vehicles and deer in Wisconsin is down 1%.
According to its U.S. claim reports, there were an estimated 1.1 million collisions between deer and vehicles between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That’s down 7% from the same period in the previous year, and down 9% from the same period three years ago.
Wisconsin is seventh on that list with the odds being 1 in 97. The National Average is 1 in 192.
For several years my cars were a statistic resulting in at least six dead deer and thousands of dollars in car repairs.
The accidents were so common that my friendly auto repair surgeon George Eagan would ask any time I stopped at his New London business, “What did you hit now?”
Three of the accidents took place en route to work. The most recent took place on State 54 in the curve at the Crossings several years ago.
The statistics include two deer on Waupaca County O on the two mile stretch from my residence to State 54. One of the accidents took place about one-quarter mile from my home, the first day driving a recently purchased car.
The DOT has statistics on types of accidents – a collision by definition would involve two moving objects – but what about a deer walking into a stopped vehicle.
That happened once when stopped for the sign at White Lake Road and County X near Thompson’s Nursery. It was the rut and a buck with its nose to the ground, walked into the driver’s side of the car, shook its head and continued its pursuit.
That same car was used as a spring board by two deer racing across a field, leaping out of a ditch and using their hoofs to do a 180 off the passenger side door and continue whence they came, The only evidence were a few scratch marks where the hoofs struck the door.
Accidents involving deer are common in Waupaca County. The number topped out at 850 in 2003. The frequency declined over several years before settling in the 600s.
“You drive enough in Waupaca County and the likelihood of having an accident involving a deer is pretty high,” a veteran county sheriff’s deputy told me several years ago.
Deer had taken out two of the county squad cars in about a week.