My bicycle buddy and I were riding side by side on a country road early one morning 30-odd years ago when a huge Rottweiler came angrily out of nowhere. I don’t think the dog actually saw me—I was on the inside by the shoulder of the road—but he charged straight for my friend. While doing so, he ran directly into my path and I couldn’t stop. I hit the animal broadside, flying over the handlebars, hitting my helmeted head on the roadway. The event terrified the animal more than it hurt him. He loped off yelping, looking back at me as if to say, “Where’d you come from?” For some reason (maybe it was divine protection) I had no bodily harm from the incident. I’m just thankful I was wearing a bicycle helmet. I do not recommend pounding one’s pate against the pavement. Bike helmets do indeed protect.
I thought of that incident the other day while riding on a bike path through the woods near Genoa Township in Ohio just before dark. A fawn was standing beside the well-maintained path, gazing off into the woods. I knew the deer didn’t hear me coming, and because it was in such deep concentration, I doubted it would see me until I was very close. I slowed down and quietly stopped within 10 feet of the animal and waited. Shortly the mottled fawn turned towards me, jerked its head in surprise and bolted off into the forest. I watched it fade into the wilderness like a falling leaf. That natural camouflage of spots on grayish tan concealed the creature in an instant. I’m glad the little guy didn’t share the fate of that Rottweiler of many years ago.
Thousands of deer get hit daily by cars and trucks on our highways. They are unpredictable creatures. The second we see one, we should brake and be very cautious. Where you see one, there are probably more nearby. They are herd animals by instinct. I have only hit one, and that was on the Arkansas back-roads near White Oak Lake. I was driving a 1998 Geo Metro and the deer I hit was almost as big as the car. Needless to say, the vehicle was ultimately totaled, and the deer was totaled on impact. It was ironic that the first utterance out of my mouth after hitting the deer was, “Oh, dear.”
My sister had a device on her car that was supposed to whistle in the wind at a pitch that deer could hear, but humans couldn’t. She never hit a deer after installing the little whistle. Could it be that something so simple could warn the animals and keep them out of harm’s way?
I remember signs on a military base in northern Missouri that read, “Deer are hazardous to military vehicles.” Be that as it may, there is another perspective to offer, “Military vehicles are hazardous to deer.” I know for certain that bicycles can be hazardous to Rottweilers.
Daniel G. Ford