You know they’re out there, waiting. Their beady little eyes looking for just the right time to make that leap.
Right in front of your car.
According to a recent story in the Des Moines Register, the most likely time of year drivers hit deer are October through December.
The story pointed to data from State Farm showing you are more likely to hit a deer in Iowa, 1 in 68 chance, than 46 other states, with only Pennsylvania (1 in 67), Montana (1 in 58) and West Virginia (1 in 41) ahead of the Hawkeye State.
And should you be lucky enough to hit Bambi as he tries to make it through mating season, it likely will take about a $4,000 chunk out of your mode of transportation.
I have a bit of experience with this, sadly. I’ve hit two deer during my time behind the wheel.
And they both took me by surprise.
The first came as I was driving through Ottumwa, Iowa, to see my parents in Burlington, Iowa.
I was a young reporter enjoying my first full-time journalism gig at The Oskaloosa Herald, and, given my occupation, my 1988 Buick LeSabre seemed like a fitting vehicle.
What shocked me was it happened as I was driving in the middle of town. This wasn’t on some country highway, where you’d expect to see such varmints hanging out.
Nevertheless, that hoofed hare brain came bounding out of nowhere and slid across the front of my car “Dukes of Hazzard”-style, leaving my hood a dented mess, complete with tufts of fur and a broken headlight.
So, yes, after calling the police and taking care of insurance matters, I drove it home with one headlight.
Cue The Wallflowers’ classic.
And, in case you were wondering about the deer, it was fine. Good to know it made it.
The second such incident came after I moved on from Oskaloosa to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. After putting the newspaper to bed, I got into my mid-90s Buick LeSabre — I was moving up in the world — and headed for my apartment in Coralville, Iowa.
The usual route was a short one via the United States’ version of Germany’s Autobahn, Interstate 80.
Though there was some traffic, the speedway was relatively empty, but the endless construction zone made things rather interesting.
Just for a second, I glanced down. Just a second. But that was all the deer needed.
After uttering an expletive, I slammed on the brakes, hoping to minimize the damage.
Much like the Ottumwa incident, the deer didn’t render my car undriveable. It was more of an annoyance than anything. But I called the police to file a report and get the insurance ball rolling.
As I waited, semis, cars and trucks periodically blazed by me, leaving behind a trail of fire like they had to generate just enough speed to travel back in time.
There really was no safe place to be. I could stay in my car, but some oblivious numbskull could wipe me off the map. I could wait beside my car, but I feared the same fate awaited that decision.
After having this internal debate, I decided to get out and stand in the deep ravine next to the road, but just far enough from the imagined route my car would take should it be clipped.
As I got out, I looked back down the highway, and I swear I could see that freakin’ deer just a-bounding down the interstate. It was fine. Of course it was.
After a little while, though it seemed like forever, a police officer arrived and took my information before I limped my car home.
I mention the make and model of the cars because I think that’s the key to surviving deer season in Iowa.
These matchbox cars on the roads today may be great for the environment, but when you’re tooling down the highway at 65 mph and a buck comes out of nowhere, what will become of that car? What will become of you?
That’s why I drive big cars. They might not be the most economical, but I know I’ll walk away from a rendezvous with a woodland creature.
Now, I drive my late grandmother’s old Buick Park Avenue, for which I’m exceedingly thankful. After all, I have a sizable daily commute, leaving myself exposed to the whims of those antlered anarchists.
Thankfully, it’s been years since those incidents, and, more often than not, I make it home with nary a sighting.
Deep down, though, I know they’re trying to lull me into some false sense of security. But I have their number. I know what they’re up to.
I know they’re still out there. Waiting.