Watching a Deer Die

photo_64_20050928A simple act of driving my daughter to school turned into an event I won’t soon forget. Down a twisting country road, surrounded by horses farms and autumn trees, a buck was struck by a car driven by a woman dressed in a tailored business suit. The woman looked physically fine when I drove by, except for her strained face. Clearly, the trauma of the event stopped her normal day and made it into something else. Something that would cause her to be late for work and would follow her around for a few days prompting her to drive slower, more cautiously. Just in case.

The deer, however, was not fine. He was lying on the road with a large bloody gash in his side. A man had pulled over to assist and to protect the deer from any more suffering. The animal didn’t try to stand, but he lifted his head, crowned with four point antlers. He strained to turn his neck to look in every direction possible. The face was unharmed in the accident.  Brown fur and large glassy eyes outlined in black observed my car as it drove past and then he looked toward the man, his protector. Emotions poured out of the deer’s expression. Fear, pain and a strength that said he wouldn’t fight, but would accept his fate.

Staring into the eyes of a dying animal, one who wasn’t domesticated, ripped my calm emotions from the morning and replaced them with a tension that’s holding me by the back of my neck and in the middle of my gut. The image won’t leave my mind.

I hope the buck dies in comfort. I assume someone went to fetch a gun from one of the local farms. Sad, but merciful. Winding roads and fall weather create a dangerous combination for interactions between deer and humans.