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June 21, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Oh Dear – There Was a Deer

Storm Clouds Massing

First there were the storm clouds. For most of our five hour Friday afternoon trip, the skies were bright blue and the sun was dazzly bright. Then as we approached our weekend camping destination, clouds started massing on the horizon. An ominous start to the weekend we thought. If we had only known. . .

Deer-Struck Truck

Twenty miles from the campground I spied a doe and fawn at the side of the road. I said, “Look at the two deer”, and the doe ran across the road and smacked into the car as I said the word “deer”. We were lucky – we were towing our mini trailer and so we were driving the bigger towing vehicle which withstood the impact – actually very well. If we had been in our little Subaru, we would have been thrown into the ditch.

The deer didn’t fare so well – I’ll pass on those photos – and the fawn ran into the woods without its mama. We’re figuring a good 6 or 7 thousand dollars in car repairs. Front fender, hood, electrical repairs, on and on. With a sizable deductible to pay, our anticipated October trip to the Southwest looks pretty doubtful. We were already concerned with the price of gas, but looks like this might be the kiss of death – so to speak.

But today it is a sunny Saturday. The prairie wildflowers are blooming and I have an itchy shutter finger. And the only living things that surrender their existence to me today will be mosquitoes – which happen to be as big as wildebeests.

Looks like a good morning to head into Sister Bay and grab some Swedish pancakes at Al Johnson’s after I shoot for awhile. Those pancakes there are heavenly – paper thin and cut in long rectangles, swimming in lingonberries and butter. Yum!


  1. Anna Surface / Jun 21 2008 7:51 am

    Oh ouch! I’m glad you and hubby are okay. We hit a deer once, and a deer had rammed into my daughter’s car totaling it.

    Mosquitoes! They are horrible this year!

    The photo of the storm clouds blooming above the farm is beautiful! 🙂

  2. gayejohnson / Jun 21 2008 8:19 am

    Such descriptive pictures to go along with your descriptive story. They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and it’s true when I see your car. Thanks for sharing this awesome adventure…and I thought the mosquitoes here in Florida were the worst..not sure now 🙂

  3. Chris Osborne / Jun 21 2008 9:51 am

    Those storm clouds are great.

    I think the deer, squirrels, and small birds have a competition to see who can run/fly through the road closest to a car and not get hit.

    The deer are losing.

  4. Pat Denino / Jun 21 2008 6:49 pm

    Hitting a dear is one of my dusk/night driving fears. I’m glad you got out of this one OK, though forfeiting the SW trip has to sting.

  5. montucky / Jun 21 2008 8:07 pm

    Your first photo is a beauty: I love to see clouds like that! The second is not so pretty! I’m glad you suffered no personal injuries but sorry for the expense of the encounter. That happens far too often around here too.

  6. HeyJules / Jun 21 2008 8:39 pm

    Big fat bummer! Glad you are all okay, though.

  7. visuallens / Jun 21 2008 11:52 pm

    Oh Dear And Deer…You have to pocket out 6 to 7 thousand dollars in car repairs. Most Important you and your hubby are okay.

  8. gypsy-heart / Jun 23 2008 10:30 am

    Sorry about your vehicle..and sorry about the mama deer. I hope the little one survived.

    We have to watch for deer and occasionally bears in our area so I understand.

  9. bookbabie / Jun 23 2008 2:18 pm

    How awful, I’m glad you guys weren’t hurt though:)

  10. Janet Wilkins / Jun 24 2008 6:34 am

    I’m sorry that your car sustained damage, however, I feel much more sorrow for the doe and especially the fawn. Civilization has spread so massively in this country, our roads and property ownership (fences and other obstacles) have become a gauntlet for wildlife to run through. We must slow down and drive defensively, observing farther ahead than just our front bumpers, anticipating what “might” happen! Even at night, animals have “eye shine” and we must be aware.

    As a lover of wildlife and nature, I feel that we simply have ourselves to blame.

  11. Bo / Jun 24 2008 7:12 am

    Janet – It WAS an unfortunate accident, and yes, I do feel sad for the fawn who will probably not be be to survive alone. As far as slowing down, however – we were driving not quite 40 mph. Not what I would call fast and when a deer decides to run in front of you, there isn’t much more defensive driving you can employ. We would certainly have chosen NOT to hit the deer if we could have. Even practicing “safe deer driving” – a necessary skill to know in Wisconsin, and one actually taught in the drivers’ ed curriculum, the inevitable happens. We were in a rural area – one main ‘country’ road and no fences – just wild land. It can happen anywhere.

    Wisconsin is pretty much being over-run by an expanding deer herd. Numbers nearly 2 million, and even with an extremely active hunting program – yes, venison is food here in the north – there is still an upswing. I won’t even get into crop damage, destruction of the natural habitat by too many grazing deer, etc. Plus with deer at these numbers, their survival in severe winter is threatened. And it was a hard winter last year.

    I love wildlfe and nature, too, and I think my blog speaks volumes in that regard. But I think PART of the problem is that people treat wild animals “as pets” and the animals become acclimated to food handouts and people interaction. We need to keep the wild in wildlife – and perhaps THAT familiarity is the part we can blame ourselves for. I’m not blaming myself for being on a road at the very moment a deer crossed it.

    BTW, Wisconsin is considering a “birth control” solution to the deer herd problems in urban areas – an alternative to trapping, relocating, or hunting. We are not totally heartless when it comes to deer, but I guess we don’t look at them and think Bambi.

    I understand your sympathies towards all wildilfe, and agree with you. I won’t even pick a wildflower to shoot it in studio. But where deer and humans interact, there will be collisions. It’s rather a fact of life – urban and rural.

  12. Janet Wilkins / Jun 24 2008 9:04 am

    Naturally, unfortunate accidents do occur. And, we too have great numbers of deer as well as hunting measures (beginning in November) for control.

    However, anticipating an animals movements can do a great deal to minimize accidents during the “off hunting season.” I recall, some years ago, seeing a doe in a heavily wooded area coming toward the road. I expected that it would eventually cross the road so I slowed down and eventually had to stop. When the doe then crossed the road, its fawn (with spots) crossed behind it … then its second fawn followed … finally, its third fawn followed.

    This is a memory that will stay with me forever, one that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t anticipated the doe’s movements!

    BTW, I do not feed the deer and don’t look at ALL of them as Bambi.

  13. Bo / Jun 24 2008 11:21 am


    I didn’t mean to imply you fed them or thought they were Bambi – but some people do and it just causes more problems.
    Hope I didn’t offend you with my response, but the deer issue is a complicated one. I try to do my best when it comes to wildlife etc and am very aware of this, so maybe you just hit a sensitive chord when you spoke about “being at blame”


  14. amuirin / Jun 25 2008 12:16 am

    People keep talking about Swedish Pancakes. It makes my mouth water, which is an odd juxtaposition with the tragic parts of this post.

    Sorry your plans got messed up, that’s a big bummer. I hope the fawn fares well, and if it has to die, it dies quick and mercifully.

  15. Bernie Kasper / Jun 25 2008 12:28 am

    Sorry about the accident Bo, I have been in the same situation as you, except it happened twice to me.

    Doesn’t matter how alert you are these things happen, in one accident I hit the deer as it ran out in front of me at night, in the other a pretty good sized buck actually ran right into my passenger side door completely denting it in it was probably being chased by a larger buck.

    I don’t mean to sound callous but isn’t it funny how people get upset when we hit a deer and it dies, but no one says a word when we smash thousands of beautiful little insects that get slammed into our windshields daily.

    Oh well I guess people like to pick and choose their battles. I hope you can work out that western trip, just make sure you watch out for antelope 😉

  16. Gandalf / Jun 25 2008 3:42 pm

    Wow, I’ve been tied up at work, so I haven’t visited your blog for a while.

    The deer issue certainly created a good spirited discussion.

    There’s no question in my mind that a lot of the human/wildlife encounters are a result of an ever expanding circle of people moving into more wild areas. Part of the issue with deer and other prey animals is the size of their population. We’ve hunted the predators until they are extinct or ineffectual at controlling the prey population.

    So unfortunately cars have become one of the substitutes for herd control, albeit one that is not very pleasant.

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