Oh, Deer.

Kevin Boozer Staff Writer

November 8, 2013

Monday night as I drove to the Jenkinsville Water Company meeting, I heard the Brad Paisley Song “Welcome to Your Future.” As it reached its second verse, a large deer welcomed itself to my immediate future. The resulting collision caused an estimated $,5800 of damage to my car. Thankfully, I was not hurt.

In this case, by the time I saw the deer I was hitting the deer. I don’t know if it was a buck or a doe. All I saw was a big, white belly through my windshield. My heartbeat never had time to quicken and I did not have time to step on the brakes.

Fortunately the damage was limited to the right front of my car and I was unhurt. This is the third deer I have hit since I took this job in May 2012. I drive country roads a lot late at night and early in the morning on my commute from Pomaria to Winnsboro.

Though I have had collisions with three deer, I have avoided countless others. Partly that is luck and chance. Partly that is the benefit of driving 45 miles per hour or slower around winding S.C. 213 to increase the chance I will have time to stop should a deer run out and to (hopefully) minimize the damage in the unfortunate event that a deer runs into me, or vice versa.

SCDNR confirmed that “neither the S.C. Department of Natural Resources nor any other state agency will compensate motorists for injuries or damages resulting from deer collisions. Besides practicing safe and defensive driving techniques, each motorist should carry adequate collision and comprehensive insurance.”

When deer are sighted well ahead of the vehicle DNR recommends “sounding the horn several times, flicking headlights (if no oncoming traffic is present) and reducing speed. If deer are sighted only a short distance in front of the vehicle, these same collision-avoidance techniques — horn and flicking lights — might spook the deer into running across the road, thereby increasing the likelihood of a collision, so in that case it’s best to just slow down. Always anticipate another deer if you see one or more crossing the highway and do not expect the deer to get out of the way.”

Deer move more at the end of the day or near sun up, the times many people make their commutes. According to DNR, “studies show that about 45 percent of deer-vehicle collisions occur in roughly a 60-day period that corresponds with the deer-breeding season. In South Carolina, the deer-breeding season, or “rut,” is generally during the months of October and November.”

According to the DNR, Fairfield County has 30 to 45 deer per square mile on average with that number increasing to over 45 deer per square mile in areas near Lake Wateree and the Broad River. This is a rural county, and rural areas are more likely to have deer-vehicle collisions.

I have to say that I was somewhat lukewarm about deer hunting and deer season this year, though I did buy a hunting license. Now I am getting an itch to get a little payback against the “woodsgoats” that wrecked my car. Whether you hunt or not, though, please take the DNR suggestions to heart.

Had I been speeding that deer just might have flipped over the hood of my car and come through the windshield. As it was, the impact crumpled that crumple zone, but thankfully the wreck was not even bad enough to make my airbag deploy. Just another day covering the news in Fairfield County.

Kevin Boozer is a staff writer for The Herald Independent and can be reached at kboozer@civitasmedia.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.