Deer Are Moving Into Traffic Early This Year
Every year it's the same story. By the time the temperatures cool off and we start enjoying what ends up a really short fall, deer start moving around and people start hitting them with their cars. It's just how life goes in SWOK. That being said, this trend normally doesn't start until the first of November. That's not to say you won't see deer before that, but the sheer amount I dodged this weekend has me thinking this is the next thing we'll chock up for a weird 2020.
I spent the weekend at my grandmas house way out West of Lawton. Woke up early Saturday, hit the road, arrived by lunch just in time to enjoy a big ole fish fry of crappie and walleye, universally the two best tasting fish in Oklahoma waters, to which our payment was mowing the lawn. Few hour spent in the shop repairing my trusty garage radio (yeah, everything is still repairable), grabbed a new gas cylinder for welding, two hours waiting on dinner to be served at the only restaurant in town, and I was back on the road home around nine-thirty. Epic day in small town Oklahoma.
That drive back home is a weird one. The first half flies by in a flash, I'm guess it's because you pass through a couple of small towns before hitting Altus... but that Altus to Lawton stretch of road is the longest piece of blacktop in Oklahoma. I wasn't out of town but a few minutes when my mother called me to catch up the last week of shenanigans. She tells me about my nephews and what everyone else is doing, typically mother stuffs. I was telling her how we repaired my radio, came up over a blind hill outside of Gould, OK and the lights illuminated about a dozen deer about three-hundred feet ahead of me. Panic.
Three-hundred feet sounds like a long distance until you're traveling seventy miles per hour. At that speed, that's just about three seconds of travel. The moment I started to put my foot on the brake pedal, the deer started to spook. Instead of fleeing for the safety of the fields to each side of the road, three of them moved into my lane and froze. I'm standing on my brake pedal at this moment.
Oddly enough, anti-lock brakes do something fascinating. They apply pressure to your rotors until the tire locks up, then release and re-apply pressure. It happens so fast, it still sounds like one long tire screech. Thankfully, my truck came to a complete stop before hitting those deer, but to their credit, those deer stood their ground until my truck stopped about twelve feet from them, then gently saunterred back into the ditch.
At this point, my cooler from the back seat found its way to my front seat, phone went flying into the floorboard, my box of 10,000 cabinet screws opened and emptied into my rear floorboard, and the only thing on my mind was "Do I still have a high-pressure welding gas cylinder in my bed?"
Luckily, my ultra-cheap $1.50 ratchet straps managed to keep that heavy tank from moving much. When I got home, it was about an inch out of place, but that sure beats the alternative, explosive decompression and such...
This is the kind of thing that happens in November and December, why am I encountering deer in the middle of September? I pondered on that the rest of the night. I even brought it up in one of my groups. We settled on the conclusion that the early fall cool temps have the deer getting up out of their beds a lot earlier than normal. It's usually still 100° during this last month of summer, and deer won't move around when it's hot to conserve their energy. You see, grass doesn't grow much this time of year. Heat and drought have that effect. There's also not much for deer to eat in the fields either as wheat has recently been planted, and only tiny sprigs of growth have occurred to this point. But as we've had a wet summer and reasonable temperatures lately thanks to the smoke cover from the Western wildfires, conditions are ideal for wildlife right now. Plenty to eat, cool temps, it's paradise.
The next time you hit the road, even the highway, keep in mind the deer season for cars has already started. Don't be the next person in line at the body shop. It's ridiculously expensive.