We've been driving the road out of the valley over 45 years. The dusk and dawn trips have always provided sightings of white-tailed deer, (and even once we saw a moose!)
Two weeks ago was the first time that we've had a very unfortunate sighting...and encounter.
It was getting dark that Sunday night as we turned east, away from the Columbia River, and towards the valley we call home. The hubby was driving and I was chatting about nothing in particular. There had been little traffic, so I noticed when a dark sedan came up quickly behind us on the two-lane road. We were going 60 mph, the posted limit. He quickly passed us and disappeared around one of the many wide corners on this route.
"That guy must not know about the deer crossing at dusk," was my observation after he zoomed away. "He would never be able to stop if one runs in front of him."
My hubby confirmed his agreement. We rode on for several miles in silence until we began the climb up the lofty hills that encase our valley home.
Halfway through the ascent I saw the sudden flash of eyes and then the form of the deer jumping into the highway. My scream was interrupted by the seat belt's sudden grip on my shoulder and waist. The moment seemed caught between fast action and slow motion. The brakes were screeching and the back end began to slide around into the second lane.
My vision of the deer is etched in my brain - its last minute stretch as it leaped in fear. The moment when I thought we had successfully evaded it. We caught the deer's hind legs on our bumper and I watched it tumble away into the dark.
When our vehicle came to a halt, we were sideways in the road. It was a vulnerable position. I could see cars coming down the hill ahead of us and up from behind. The hubby slowly straightened the vehicle out and drove about 100 yards up the hill to where there was shoulder width to pull over.
We couldn't see the deer from that position, but the initial review of the front of the car showed minimal impact damage.
I was terribly shaken and felt sick. The hubby wanted to go back and check on the deer, but I discouraged him because he doesn't carry a gun. An injured deer could be dangerous.
Instead, I called the State Patrol and asked for them to send someone to end the deer's misery. We headed home.
A week later I had to go that same route to head to Spokane. The deer lay dead on the grassy slope off the road.
Although I was thankful that it hadn't suffered long and I was thankful that we were not injured, I still felt very emotional. Poor Deer.
Bury My Heat at Wounded Knee
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