Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Damn deer.

A lot of you seem interested in tales from the wilds. So, okay.

Around here, one of the big deals that we've been worrying over is deer. Or rather, hitting deer with the vehicles. I was never really anti-hunting. I'm ant-waste, but if you wanna EAT the non-endangered critter you hunt, knock yourselves out. Well, here in western PA, they don't hunt NEARLY enough, because in the late fall and early winter, we are ass deep in freaking deer. They're rated "Least Concern" by the environmentalists, along with rats and pigeons. We should round up all the damn things and make them into sausage. Okay, I'm flexible. Sausage AND jerky.

For those of you overseas, I'm talking about these bastards:

(From Wikipedia Commons, of course.) Technically these are known as white-tailed deer, but around here it's more like 'those fucking deer'. I grew up thinking that male deer (bucks) put on a 'point' or prong on each antler for each year they're alive. Luckily for me I just did a bit of fact-checking, and it turns out that the point count has more to do with diet, though genetics of course play a role. Apparently you can find eight-point bucks (namely, FUCKING HUGE DEER WITH BIG RACKS OF ANTLERS) not quite two years old. This explains a lot; we practically trip over four point bucks around here, all the time. We've also got does here bigger than bucks I've seen other places, and I'm not talking small mutant key deer or anything. We just grow enormous deer.

I'd have thought the deer would do better west of here, where I grew up. After all, I grew up in farmland, and farmland means grain crops, and grain crops mean good eating for deer. But it also means less camouflage and habitat, I guess. Here in PA, because it is so hilly and mountainous, it is also really wooded. Woodland means lots of seeds (especially acorns) to eat, as well as plenty of space to roam around and hide in, so we've got more deer here. I've seen more deer since we moved here in July than I think I saw the entire time I grew up in Ohio. And it's not like I didn't see deer THERE.

At any rate, they're a big deal when they weigh 300 pounds and you run into them with your car. Particularly when they like to come out at night and they're dumb as hell. Most self respecting animals will run AWAY from cars, or at least try to get out of their way. Not deer. They'll stand in the middle of the road going "whaaaaaat?" until you hit them. Or stand at the side of the road until you get close and THEN step in front of you.

It's an adventure.

We live in a series of state routes running along ridges, and to get to other state routes, you cut through valleys full of woods on small, twisty roads. So to cut over to the route north of us, you have two choices: Take the small twisty road that cuts through golf courses and fields full of deer, or take the decently paved road past the local dump full of food that is teeming with deer.

One night I had to run into town for some appointments, so I took the better-paved of the two choices, thinking it would be safer. HA. Coming down a hill, I saw headlights swerving around in all directions, so I slowed down. Good thing I did. At the bottom of the hill, a really big doe was standing at the side of the road, her feet on the white line, looking around like a dumbass, while everyone slammed on the breaks, afraid she'd jump in front of them.

One AFTERNOON the hub and I were coming back from somewhere in broad daylight, came around a corner, and the husbeast said "hey, did you see that deer?" He only ever saw the doe near the road, because he was busy driving. I was busy gaping at the six or eight point monster buck behind her. When we were house shopping in this area we had to stop to let a herd of six or eight deer get out of the way; they were roaming around someone's neighborhood. I can count on one hand the deer I've seen in broad daylight, other places. Here? Happens all the time. And there are even more of them running around at night.

So far, the husbeast says the closest he's come to hitting a deer has been in the driveway. He drives around a lot more at night, so he's got a lot more amusing tales to tell.

Anyone know if it's legal to punch a deer in this state?

25 comments:

Gracey is not my name.... said...

Very funny...we don't have that much of an issue, but about 40 minutes away at the inlaws, yep lots of deer!

Shoveling Ferret said...

I feel like "deer punching" is probably a euphemism for something I'm afraid to look up.

justthreadtwiddling said...

We have lots of deer here,too. We are a mile from the river and have a creek IN our back yard. So the deer come to eat our apples, pears and grapes. I really don't mind sharing if it keeps them off the road!

Kailin said...

This might help you anticipate when deer are likely to be playing in traffic: deer operate on a lunar cycle... if the moon is up, so are the deer.

That's why you'll sometimes see them in the daylight and sometimes at night.

And you're right... there's rarely only one! Most car-deer collisions involve the second or third one of a group to cross the road. If a deer seems to wait for you to get close before it jumps out, it has probably reached maximum anxiety about joining its crew on the other side of the road.

Good luck!

Alwen said...

I don't swear much, but I second the damn when it comes to deer.

Here is my take on deer:

Deer are stupider than mourning doves. Mourning doves will sit in the road, but when cars come, mourning doves fly away. And there's not much brain space in a mourning dove head.

Deb said...

No deer punching allowed. You can only hunt in areas that are ? feet away from the house.

Don't buy the deer alerts for the cars. They don't work.

When you see a deer when it's dark, you can flash your headlights. The headlights startle them and sometimes flashing them will make the deer move.

Have you husband supply urine (you get to choose how), around the bushes and flowers to help keep the deer away.

On the bright side ---- at least it's not a bear running in front of your car. If you hit one of them, the car will be killed, but not the bear - you'll just make him angry.

Hope this helps...

Anonymous said...

You left out the fact that they leave behind more shit than the average housepet when they hang out in your backyard all day. Really pisses me off to hit that with the mower or when racking leaves.
Penny

Terby said...

I don't love all the deer on the road, but I'm thankful I don't have to look out for moose. Those suckers are big.

jan said...

I feel your pain. We live in rural Illinois and the f-ing deer are everywhere. My husband has "punched" 3 of the nasty, buggers in the last 19 years and been "caressed" by several more. Thank goodness it's an act of God - so insurance covers most of the damage.

Jilly Bean said...

We live on the edge of town, so we get a fair amount of deer in our neighborhood, especially when summers ten to be drier, forcing the deer to look to the more populated areas for food. Most of the time they stay out of the road, but they still like to take their chances sometimes.

I actually came butt-puckeringly close to hitting a deer on a bicycle one night. There's a pub about a mile from our house that we like to bike down to for dinner and beers. On the ride home, I was biking at a pretty fast clip so that I could take the next hill, when a deer jumped out of the bushes about twenty-five feet in front of me. I hit the brakes and swerved enough to miss it's back legs by about six inches. Meanwhile, the boyfriend nearly launched himself off his bike as he tried to avoid slamming into me, and the deer ambled off like it hadn't just tried to kill us.

BF spent the rest of the ride griping at me about stopping so suddenly, since he would have been hurt when ran into my bike. Personally, I'd rather deal with crashing into another bike than a terrified, flailing 300-lb mass of hooves and horns, but that's just me.

David said...

http://www.retrocrush.com/archive2003/posters/baby.jpg

-David

Betsy said...

Two things...when you are planning the garden...plan around the deer...you'd be surprised what they will eat...and what they won't eat.

And...there are almost always two...so if one jumps out in front of your car and you miss it, be very alert for the second one.

Donna Lee said...

We are in a very developed area and deer were not ever seen. Until about 2 years ago. Now they are everywhere and we see them frequently when we drive. Traffic jam one day on my way to work. Someone hit a deer. That was unheard of before.
They drive my daughter's dog crazy.

Patricia said...

Big change from city living. Nightlife was the crazy neighbors, now it is deer, raccoon (nasty nasty buggers). Dog keeps the deer away for the most part, unfortuntately they love the hosta the husbeast planted.

Roxie said...

Gardening - look for plants that deer won't eat. Remember that they can jump at least six feet, so fence accordingly if you put in a vegetable garden. Masculine urine and sweaty t-shirts will discourage them until the next rain.

Deer punching may not be wise. Try a cattle prod.

The most dangerous animal in the US is the deer. More deaths result from deer encounters than from encounters with any other animal. It's all those car wrecks.

Carrie said...

In Allegheny Cemetery, which is within Pittsburgh city limits, we've got something on the order of a hundred deer. I almost hit one one night on Washington Boulevard. Being in the city proper doesn't really help all that much, when it comes to the deer...

(My verification word is "humandic". For some reason this strikes me as funny.)

geekknitter said...

Sausage and jerky and venison stew!

RC said...

rats on stilts. icky cooty carrying beasts come UP TO MY HOUSE and eat the mums when they flower in the spring AND fall. and poop EVERYWHERE. as if I dont' have enough with 3 big dogs (which do nothing to scare them away unless I let the dogs give chase)
Hate deer

Louiz said...

When Himself started working in Norway years ago, he was highly amused when he discovered the Elk Test - which means that the car manufacturers check that the car can hit an elk (moose?) and drive away. Sounds like you need a deer test!

Caryn said...

I live 13 miles north of Boston in a thickly settled neighborhood. Deer all over the place. Not only that, once you have deer, you have coyotes. More joy.
I don't mind the deer because I don't have a garden and they are welcome to eat the stuff in the back woods. I do mind the coyotes a bit especially when they surprise me taking the dog out for a pee.

Corlis said...

Male urine is great for keeping all sorts of critters away. Allegedly human hair in stockings or cheese cloth will keep deer away from tasty plants.

Are you near enough to woods to have to worry about timber rattlers?

Amy Lane said...

No, but we are ass deep in fucking turkeys... those bastards are EVERYWHERE!

Alacaeriel said...

I'm not sure if punching a deer is illegal, but I'm quite sure they wouldn't like it. Maybe reserve the punching for the does? They don't have those racks of antlers...

Emily said...

I've hit a deer twice. The first time (at twilight)the thing just materialized in front of my car: poof! Antlers & all. All I had time to do was hang on & not get thrown off the road.

It killed the deer, and the insides of my car came thru the grille. Later I learned how I could have died.

The other was a glancing blow (at night) which left a thick row of fur above a headlight, like fake eyelashes.

I did not see either one ahead of time. And I was looking!

=Tamar said...

Agree, especially about the third damn deer in the group. Rats on stilts is way too appropriate.