WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS for those of you with sensitivities.
I had a unpleasant night last night. Very unpleasant.
What's worse than hitting and killing a deer?
Hitting and not killing a deer.
Tom and I were both in town yesterday - different errands (he driving to a job interview in the county south of us [nope, it wasn't a match]) - and so we were in different cars. Our dear friend who reached the North Pole has just returned home, and so he and Tom were visiting late into the evening. And, because Tom had to be back in town early this morning, he and I decided it made way more sense for him to just spend the night at the Håfweh Haus, the little cabin we built just outside of town back in . . . '98 (?). After all, that's one of the reasons we have it, right?
So, I was heading home in the 1-Ton (thank goodness I wasn't driving the tiny Yaris!) with the dogs just before 10:00 PM. I'd turned off the highway and was only 4 miles or so up the main gravel road when I saw a little deer - a yearling - ahead of me. It was on the right side of the road, and I watched it bound across and up the embankment into the trees on the left. As I drew abreast of where it had crossed, suddenly it shot back out of the trees and across my headlights. I slammed on the brakes, throwing my right arm out against the groceries in the front seat (the dogs would have to fend for themselves*), bracing for the worst, but hoping for the best.
(I reeeeeally thought he was gonna clear the truck. It was SOOOOOO close.)
* Deer are so thick up here that I truly try to not drive so fast that the dogs in the backseat would get hurt if I had to suddenly brake.
I pulled off the road and turned around so I could shine the lights where we'd just collided. "He" (we know now) was in the newly sprouted grass at the side of the road. When my headlights hit him, he struggled up and threw himself forward a few steps. It was horrible. He was very much alive but BADLY injured. I got out and moved closer: a hind leg was mangled. Apologizing over and over and over, I told the deer to "stay". I'd be right back.
Then I drove as quickly as I safely could back the way I'd come.
It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (I cannot emphasise that ENOUGH) fortunate that this happened just 1 mile from our nearest neighbor (who is still 13 miles from home). AND, he's a dear friend, and he was home. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I knocked on the door while his dog (the really stinky but so sweet one we've babysat in the past) woofed madly. "Chicken Mama", he smiled. "What brings you out?"
"I need a gun," I said, wasting no time on small talk.
With a high-powered pistol in hand (clip in my front pocket, thank you very much), I raced back up the road.
The deer was still there, struggling towards the embankment that leads down to the river when my headlights landed. I checked the clip, snapped it into place, and got out of the truck.
All I could say, over and over, was, "I'm so, so sorry, sweet girl, I'm so sorry." (I still thought it was a doe at that point.)
Afterwards, I drove back to the friend's house. I called my folks first to tell them that I wouldn't be home by the assigned if-you're-not-home-by time. Then, I called Tom. He said, "Hey! I'm just leaving (our friend's). I'll be to the cabin shortly." I responded with an anxious, "Why don't you come all the way home tonight, okay?"
Our dear friend, pulled out of his slippers at so late an hour, loaded up his dog and got into his car to help me load the deer into the back of the pickup. (If there's one thing worse than wounding an animal, it's letting it waste once it's dead.)
It was a small deer, so the job was quickly and cleanly done. Our friend turned back towards home, and I continued on the remaining miles.
Tom arrived home shortly after I did, asking me, "Are you okay?!" I was fine . . . but it sure was good to have him home!
Fast forward past the skinning and the gutting, and we had the deer hanging in the woodshed and were in bed by 1:00 AM. One of the hind legs had a compound fracture. I think it caught on the front tine of the snowplow assembly. (As you can see in the above picture, a rear leg is bent at a VERY unnatural angle.) Once Tom gutted the animal, we could see that the ribs on the impact side were badly broken, too (see top left of picture below). So, at least I can find some "comfort" in the knowledge that he would never have made it in the wild . . . and that putting him out of his misery was the best thing we could have done.
Still, I couldn't stop saying "I'm sorry" to him during the entire butchering process. There's no doubt that roadkill is part of life up here, but that still doesn't make it any easier when you are directly involved.
This morning, Tom had the meat (the little bit of it the deer had) cut off and the waste discarded almost before I had the coffee made! The hide is waiting to be salted down. We got a few nices pieces off the back for human comsumption, and the dogs get venison again for their mealtimes.
I got the meat all cleaned, cut, and into the freezer this morning.
And, so ends the life of a little deer and another saga in The Simple Life . . . but you can bet I wish it had never happened at all.