A friend of mine who is a motorcycle rider once told me of a trip he took all by his lonesome to a biker convention somewhere around Gettysburg, PA. Keith said he straddled his bike early one morning, pointed that sucker northeast, and just rode all day. The Interstate Highway System is a wonderful thing, and although I am a fast driver myownself, I have been passed by a passel of motorcycles in my driving days, which used to be pretty extensive before a broken back came back to haunt me and made me get off the road for a few years, until that was healed at a Kairos Prison Ministry Team meeting in 2003.
At any rate, Keith said he made good time, and along toward mid-afternoon decided to take a scenic route for a stretch, along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Scenic is the right word there: Betsy and I came back from the Navy thataway, and tarried at many a pretty place during a leisurely trip returning home from being in Uncle Sam’s service. Keith was tooling along with no other cars in sight, when a deer burst from the side of the highway. He reflexively grimaced, expecting a collision, but the doe turned at the side of the asphalt and began to parallel the bike. He increased speed, and so did the deer, and they raced together along that Blue Ridge Parkway stretch in a bike/deer ride that he will never forget.
I was returning home from a New Orleans Baptist Seminary Music Leaders Course in Greenwood the other night when it was so foggy, and hit a 3-mile stretch of gravel just before I got to the County Line Road. Just after I came around the curve by the Tindall barns, I caught a glimpse of movement out of my left eye, and winced as a deer appeared when I looked thataway, expecting to get venison in the driver’s side window. But the small buck managed to turn just before he hit the Mercury, and paralleled me along the side of the road, before crossing the ditch headed back into the harvested field. Then we both noticed – at about 40 miles per hour – that a light pole was right in front of the buck!
On a wet gravel road, I couldn’t do much maneuvering, so I knew if he swerved my way to miss the pole, I still had a chance for fresh venison, at the cost of fixing the car door. But the buck managed to dodge the pole, in spite of his speed. We were right next to one another ten feet apart, and I could almost see the expression of relief on his face: “Man, I near’bout hit that pole!”
That expression was still on his face as he hit the guy wire.
In the fog with headlights, I didn’t even see the guy wire, though of course it wasn’t in the gravel road either. So I didn’t actually see the deer hit the taut wire, but there was no mistaking the fact that suddenly there were four hooves in the air instead of a deer head, neck stretched out like a race horse at the finish line. In the side mirror, I saw mud fly as the buck was slammed into the ground. I braked to back up – no sense in wasting fresh-killed meat.
Just as I started to open the door, the deer began kicking, and regained his feet. He stood, in my headlights now, and shook his head just like a boxer who has arisen after taking a serious knockdown punch. I am sure that I probably shook my own head thataway two summers ago, when me and a chainsaw and a cypress knee and a Swimming Hole deck all collaborated for my fifth concussion. I conducted Choir practice wearing reading glasses for a month after that.
The little buck motivated somewhat unsteadily off across the field, and I was tempted to drive back past the County Line the next morning to see if he made it very far, or at least to witness his staggering tracks in the mud, but it was raining the next morning. I expect he survived. I can remember when me and Jimmy Moore did pretty much the same thing hitting a clothesline in Dan Smythe’s back yard, after we had released a few hens into the haybarn where a square dance was going on that night. “Clothes-lining” rates a penalty: in football, or in deer racing!