I once found a deer along the side of the road during an early Saturday morning run.
I thought the deer had been struck by a car and killed, but as I got close to the deer I found it to be very much alive and trying desperately to scurry away from me—with only the use of its front legs.
Apparently a car had struck its backside and immobilized the two back legs. To say it was one of the saddest sights I have ever seen is an understatement.
I ran hard for the next two miles until I made it to a Waffle House and asked to use their phone.
I frantically dialed 911 and told them what I had seen and the exact place they would find the deer in distress.
The voice on the other end of the phone said, “I’m on it,” and that was that. Later that day I returned to the scene of the crime and found it to be without a trace of what had transpired earlier.
In my heart the deer had been rescued, was being treated for its injuries and would soon be released into the wild. In my head… well, in my head I knew better.
I just refused to admit it, like I’m doing right now, and will still be doing until the day I die.
Recently one of my employees missed work. He wrecked his car on his commute after colliding with a deer at 50 miles an hour (the car, not the deer).
The deer got caught underneath his car, causing the car to veer sharply to the right and into a ditch.
Surprisingly, once the car came to a halt, the deer furiously kicked with all four legs until it had freed itself from beneath the car, stood up and ran off into the woods.
Meanwhile my employee had to wait until a tow truck was available.
I’ve hit two deer myself, so I understand what my employee went through. Both times I struck a deer in December—one year apart—on the same road.
I now travel well under the speed limit on that road whether it’s day or night, much to the chagrin of each and every driver who has had the unfortunate luck of being behind me. (It’s a two-lane, solid-yellow-center-line road offering very few opportunities to pass).
I doubt they’d be flashing their bright lights at me quite as much if they knew they were in Deer Alley; after all, I’m doing it for their own good as well as the local deer population and mine.
Last week, about three miles into my run, I found a fawn lying on the grass along the side of the road, the victim of what essentially boils down to a hit and run.
The baby deer—maybe a couple months young at most—was alone, its mother nowhere in sight.
I couldn’t help but think the mother was nearby, afraid but still intently watching me to make sure I didn’t disturb her little one.
I ran off as quickly as I could: partially because I couldn’t bear to look and partially because I wanted to give the mother the freedom to mourn her loss.
My thoughts began darting all over the place as I ran off. How does a mother deer mourn the loss of an offspring? How long will she mourn? Does she mourn privately? If not, how does she communicate her loss to her brood? To other loved ones? How long will she mourn? Will she ever get over the loss of her child?
Does a deer cry over the death of another deer?
I can tell you firsthand that humans do.
I’ve written previously how much trouble I have at funerals. When they’re for children, it makes them that much tougher.
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia with his wife Cindy, three cats and never enough visits from his grandson Krischan. He can be reached at email@example.com. His books can be found on his author page on Amazon.