Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Of deer and deer whistles

By Meg Hibbert

A fawn just big enough to have shed its spots scampered out of the bushes in the dark and underneath my car as I was driving home the other night.

There was barely enough time to stop before the deer disentangled itself from under my front bumper and license plate, and ran off into the underbrush on the opposite side of the road. She was able to run but looked back as if to say, “What was that?” and “Am I all right?”

I’m not sure. I didn’t find any blood or deer hair on my car when I got home – and only a single strand of hair flipping in the breeze on the windshield this morning. Still, I was shaken.

I hope the fawn is still bonded enough with her mother so that the big one can lick the little one’s wounds and tell her everything is going to be OK. After a thorough scolding of “Now you see why I tell you not to play near the road.”

I had been driving between 30 and 35 mph, which should have been enough to activate the sounds of my deer whistles. Still, when a deer is bound-and-determined to run into the side or front of your car, whistles don’t make a difference.

You know about deer whistles, don’t you? I’m not sure what the trade term is. That’s what our family always calls them. They’re hollow bullet-shaped pieces of plastic that you mount on your front bumper so the wind whistles through and makes a sound deer can hear. They work on dogs and rabbits and squirrels, too. Right now, though, squirrels are in their silly season, zipping back and forth and changing directions in front of drivers as the rats-in-fur coats try to hang onto their green hickory nuts which they’ve always cut on the opposite side of the road from where they’re stashing their prizes.

When squirrels run out in front of me while I’m driving, I always give them a lecture: “Silly squirrels don’t live.” As you’ve notice these past two weeks or so from the furry carcasses in the road, there were a bunch of silly squirrels this season.

I’m not heartless. I do swerve for animals when there’s time and no oncoming or following traffic. And I grieve when I do happen to hit one, whether it be a gorgeous red cardinal that flies into my car’s grill or a stupid squirrel who changes directions one too many times.

It’s the season, though. So be extra careful out there. Most of the deer I’ve seen regularly are reading their hunting schedules and making themselves scarce. Early bear season has already started, as marked by two photographs in The New Castle Record Oct. 2 of young ladies who bagged a bear each. And turkey season is right around the corner. Those nine wild turkeys I spotted last week have already noted that, and taken off for deeper woods.

 

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