Oh, deer! That was a close one.
When on the highway, my wife Judy is always in charge of deer hunting - meaning that it is imperative to watch both sides of the highway.
It's almost a given that anyone who has been driving Minnesota roadways at least 10 years has either struck a deer or has come close to smashing into the four-legged animal.
Just the other night, Judy and I were traveling on Highway 30 near Ellendale, heading east toward Blooming Prairie. Actually, we were making a right-hand turn
from the Interstate 35 ramp onto Highway 30.
Judy was behind the wheel, and at the same time, we both said we saw a weird formation in the woods on the other side of the roadway. "I'm not moving until I see if a deer is moving," Judy said.
Again, at the same time, we began counting 1-2-3-4-5 deer crossing Highway 30 toward woodlands to the south.
Whew! I breathed as we waited to see if there were more deer entering our traffic lanes.
Usually, autumn is a time when our whitetail deer population thinks it has the right of way on our travel ways.
Be careful when traveling Minnesota roads at night. If the temperature is between 15 and 40 degrees, it is possible that deer are on the move.
This most-recent warning brought to mind my close calls of smashing into a four-legged species.
One of our weirdest encounters came when Judy and I were shopping for a used car in Wisconsin. The salesman encouraged us to take a low mileage car for a test drive.
We just went a few miles through a wooded area when a huge buck deer crossed in front of us. Slamming on the brake, I avoided a collision, but I did manage to clip him with the right front bumper.
With no damage done, we sealed the deal and bought the deermobile.
I also had another experience with a deer when I was about a mile from home. A deer decided to play "chicken" with me.
The deer won, taking out my right-front fender. I pulled to the shoulder of the road, looked back for the deer and saw no sight of it. All I could see were parts of my car covering one lane of the road.
Maybe, the craziest, almost serious deer run-in was described by Darrell and Cindi Hansen, relatives from Blooming Prairie.
The two were returning home in their convertible on Highway 30 when a huge deer used the Hansens' car as a hurdle on a racetrack. The deer cleared their convertible (top was down). They had to stop and asked one another: "Did we really see what we saw?"
Deer-vehicle crashes peak in the autumn months, but Minnesota’s large deer population makes them a safety hazard on the road all year long. Deer crashes are especially dangerous for motorcyclists — a group which accounted for 17 of the 20 vehicle-deer related deaths over a five-year period (2015-2019).
Always be alert when traveling country roads. If a deer pops into your lane of travel, don't try to avoid a crash by slamming on the brake. It sounds strange, but safety efforts say it is best to take the deer head on.