I ambled along, noticing how pretty everything was after all the snow and three days of sub-freezing temps. The county road between Spring City and Pigeon Hollow was still snowpacked, even though the overnight temperatures the night before had been in the twenties instead of below zero, as it had been during the previous two nights.
I checked my brakes for traction, and though it was better than it had been last night on the way home, I decided to slow down a bit more. Further along, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a deer bounding full-tilt toward the highway. "Oh, great," was my first thought. This was followed by quick calculations and decisions on braking, swerving and accelerating on a very slick road surrounded by small borrow pits, stout fenceposts and junipers on either side. With not much I could safely do, my next intelligible thought was something like "shit." Though I cannot be exactly sure, my next few thoughts were along those same lines. (I am not terribly proud of that, but I reckon I've relearned at least one thing about initial reactions through this experience.)
The next few moments went by quickly, and suffice to say that any adjustments to speed and course I made, the deer seemed bound and determined to counter. I hit him dead center, ending things on his side with dispatch.
I continued my course off the road, attempting to make it back to the road before my momentum faded completely or I hit another, more immobile obstacle. The language arts that followed as I jumped out of the truck to survey damage was very similar to the thoughts afore mentioned, though with an amazing level of volume and a bit more creativity. Again, shame on me, more because it was reflexive than a conscious masterpiece of colorful linguistics. There was a quite a bit of adrenaline to deal with right then. Besides, on that lonely country road, there was only the dead deer and me.
And my truck. 'Twas running, so I popped the hood to check for damage. Gracias a Dios, the plumbing was untouched, though the front metal and right fender took damage that will take work and some money to undo.
After collecting a few of my wits, I went to the deer conspicuously unmoving at the end of a long patch of earth skidded free of the snow that had previously covered it. He was a young buck, antlers beginning to bud their third point. That's where his progression toward maturity will end for this life. Though I wasn't completely recovered from the anger at the circumstance and small inconveniences ahead, I was at last beginning to feel for this young deer. I don't know why he was so determined to cross the road at that time, he had to be close to his top speed when metal met flesh, but his was the fate that was final. My old Toyota will run for at least one more trip down the road, and might be fixed in a week or so, but that buck had met the light at the end.
Tingling from adrenaline, sad from the tragedy of the moment, but somehow awakened by the crossroads met by both the buck and me, I placed my hand on his head. Mumbling my apologies and saying a small prayer for his spirit and my still present and integral soul, I walked away through the chaotically tracked snow to my still running truck turning my four-wheel drive hubs to get back onto the road.
Getting in, I drove slowly up the borrow and away to my normal day's work.