Sunday, February 28, 2010

Toyota 0 - Deer 1 Toyota

John Ramsey Miller

I asked James Scott Bell to come in and post early this week because on my way home the other night I killed a deer. It was a small, but nice four-point buck, who presented himself broadside to me and I shot him with the front end of my Toyota Highlander, which I’d owned outright for exactly one month, having paid off the note after five years of installments. I was lucky I’m too old to have fast reactions or I might have been killed or killed somebody when I swerved to avoid him. I didn’t even leave skid-marks on Highway 49. Mr. Deer took out my grill, radiator, plastic engine cover, hood, fenders and my windshield and did two dollars short of $5,000 dollars worth of damage.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t shaken up, but I was pissed off at myself for not seeing the thing until it was being eaten by my SUV. And I was mad that I’d have to waste all that young meat that had just been tenderized by thousands of pounds of flying Japanese hammer. My dear wife had to come the six miles get me in her Miata and there was no room for the animal. I think wasting a game animal is a sin, and I never kill what I won’t eat or what won’t eat my chickens or dogs. The point of this story is that a man in a pick-up the size of a Sherman tank (and its bed filled with split logs) pulled over, turned around and drove back to where I was standing, surveying the dead animal, which was behind me. This man drove off the highway, parked on the slope twenty feet above me, and rolled down his window. The first thing he said was, “Are you all right?”
“I am perfectly fine,” I said. “Would you like a nice freshly killed deer? I seem to have one on my hands.”

Turned out he was not a hunter, nor much interested in the animal’s meat. He raised meat cows, which are never referred to as “cows,” but “steers or Doughgees.” Evidently males are what you eat if you are not a vegan. What he offered me was a warm backseat to sit and make my phone calls. Wife. Insurance company. The deer’s parents.

I realize very often that this kind of thing is what living in the country is all about. Not hitting deer so much as people surprising you with their concern and unselfish assistance. Scott Cress was his name and he stayed with me until my wife got there and he invited her into the warm truck and she climbed in. After we all started talking, it turned out we knew a lot of the same people, and his brother-in-law is an acquaintance of mine. But Scott didn’t know me, but he stopped and took an hour out of his evening at home with wife and kids to make sure I was all right.

When the highway patrolman pulled up, my new pal, Scott, called him by his first name, and the patrolman asked me if I wanted the deer. A warm deer on the ground is a commodity in some places, even a deer with four broken legs and half its antlers gone God knows where. We all agreed what a shame it was. That nice young patrolman stayed there until the wrecker showed up and we had all driven away.

As I’ve said before, I am a mall-town boy, and I love living out in the middle of nowhere. A lot of the reason beside the amazing quiet and the privacy is because neighbors are just so gosh-darned neighborly. You get to know your neighbors slowly in a rural setting and friendships (like anything that cures as it ages) are better that way. They don’t trouble you, but if you need them they are right there. After the third generation of you grows up around here the locals even stop calling your descendants “newcomers.”

When I went into town the next day I saw the deer lying where my Toyota had left him, but by that evening, he was gone, just as I knew he would be. You see, Scott Cress raised cattle, but his day job was working for the state running a road crew. He told me he’d get the deer tidied up the next day so I didn’t have to look at it and cuss when I saw it, and he was as good as his word.

So now I’m hauling chicken feed in a fancy rental car that is a Chevy that looks like a 30’s roadster. So I have to drive a pug ugly silver Dick Tracy looking low rider for the next two weeks while they fix my Totoya with its NC plates and the all-important NRA sticker on the windshield.


  1. Too bad about the deer. Lucky it didn't go through your windshield--when my dad lived in Texas, they took out several deer, and too many rabbits to count.

  2. I've never come close to hitting a deer in L.A. I've slowed for some squirrels, though. I think, however, your story is a bit more dramatic.

  3. My husband's cousin hadn't had her car very long, either, when she hit a deer, and a week after she got her car back she hit another one!!

    Unfortunately, we had a friend killed when another car hit a deer and it was thrown through his windshield. That was about 2 and a half years ago. So we're all glad you are ok. Hope you continue to be.

    James--watch out for those squirrels! (Haven't you seen them on the commercials giving each other high fives after they made a car go off the road?)

  4. Another deer story---my father-in law didn't hit the deer, the deer actually hit the side of the RV; messed up the fender, etc., including the left windshield wiper. He rigged it by using a piece of copper pipe to connect it to the right one (it still worked) and they went back and forth just fine. That was pretty funny looking, kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies. It was a few days before he could get the RV into the repair shop; had to drive from ND back to MN; and had about $6,000worth of damage.

  5. Some weeks the best I have is life happening.

  6. OUCH!

    I've hit a couple of little furry critters including a racoon that reared up in front of my grill, I saw two paws come over the hood before he went to his reward, bothered me for two days.

    When I was a kid, my dad's car was hit by a deer. I was in the back seat, a deer bounced off the side of the car. For a couple of seconds, the deer's head was pressed in profile against my window before he bounced off with no damage to car, but some psychological damage to the youngest passenger. Has bothered me know for several decades - no wonder I try and write horror from time to time . . . ( :

  7. Didn"t I hear once that "deer" is the code word for "revenuer"?

  8. Toyota should have came forward with a full disclosure. Instead of waiting for a huge media blitz and tons of public pressure. I never seen so many car companies having recalls all at the same time. I had no idea my car was affected until I searched on and found I had a bad Anti Lock control unit on my 2008 Pontiac G8 , So be careful

  9. This post was about MY Totota, which has been trouble free since 2001. Get your own blog, Annon. God, I hate it when it isn't about ME and my stuff. Having your Toyota malfunction is not likely to happen. You are more likely to hit a deer than to die screaming while your car is going 100 MPH and you are pumping the brakes.

  10. Wow John, sucks for your Toyota. I used to be on the EMT crew in my rural Alaska town and we responded to a good number of "car meets moose" incidents every year. Moose, up to 1200 lbs, are a little bigger than deer as I understand. Most times the car was totalled and the often the people didn't get out on their own power.
    It is amazing how much meat can be left on an animal after getting whacked by a vehicle. For years me and a couple guys in my town were on the "Roadkill List" & would get calls from the Troopers to come pickup a carcass from the side of the road. Got tons of meat that way...literally the point I had to ask to be moved further down the list.

    Anyway, good to hear that you weren't hurt. It's also good to know that the someone was able to harvest the left overs.