As we travel the highways and byways of our great nation, we see constant reminders that it’s the grilling season.
I don’t mean the kind of grilling that includes glowing charcoal and sizzling meat and secret blends of herbs and spices. We’re talking about the type of grilling that involves the front ends cars or trucks and high-speed interactions with members of the Cervidae family.
The grilling season generally peaks in the fall. This is because autumn is the mating season for deer, a time when the males of the species become even dumber than usual. The bucks become so fixated on one particular idea that you could say their minds are stuck in a groove. This is why it’s commonly said that the deer are in rut.
Massive hormonal changes grip the males’ brains, causing even the dweebiest little buck to think that he’s the studliest stud on the planet. And he’s willing to chase a female for miles, stupidly risking his life as he recklessly crosses multiple lanes of speeding traffic, to prove to her that what he believes about himself is true. Rutting deer are remarkably similar to junior high school guys.
I recently went for my daily walk on our gravel township road. As I approached our house, it appeared that a small tree that had suddenly sprouted on the roadside. The tree proved to be the headgear of a whitetail buck who was standing at the end of our driveway. In full daylight! Acting like he owned the place!
I got close enough for the two of us to lock eyes. I could tell what he was thinking: that I am old and slow and woefully inadequate in the antler department. He was also thinking that my recliner looked pretty comfy and that he was anticipating sitting in it while holding the TV remote with his front hoof as my wife served him heaping helpings of alfalfa hay.
I stared back at the buck and sent out powerful mind waves that said, “Don’t even think about it! Vamoose or we’ll have you over for dinner! And not in the way that you hoped!”
Whereupon the buck snorted and ran off. I have the video to prove it.
Whenever I see a deer corpse beside the road — or, in some cases, what appears to be a large and hairy smushed bug on the roadway — I think to myself, “Somebody just had a bad day.” And I don’t only mean the deer.
I have smacked into a few deer over the years. But I’m a rank amateur compared to my wife. She is our family’s deer grilling champion.
Word of her latest deer interaction usually arrives via a phone call.
“I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” my wife might begin. “You know how all those deer like to hang out at the end of the neighbor’s grove? The good news is that there’s one less of them now.”
Next would come an expensive visit with our local automotive body repairman. We have given our body repair guy enough business over the years to pay for his son’s college education. The son has since taken over the business and has named a new wing of their shop after us.
I had always thought that my wife’s deer grilling skills were the result of inattentiveness or slow reactions. That is, until I witnessed her in action a few years ago.
My wife and I were motoring along a highway one autumn evening after a night at the movies. There was a flash of buckskin in the headlights followed instantly by a loud WHUMP!
Acrid smoke stung our noses. It gradually dawned on us that this was from the air bags’ detonation charges. Automobile manufacturers should really do something about that awful smell. I suggest that they include potpourri in their airbag ignition systems.
After we had safely pulled over, we got out to inspect the damage. The fender was smashed so badly that the passenger door was difficult to open. I could almost hear our body repair guy breaking into his happy dance.
We limped into the nearest gas station and called the sheriff. While we waited for a deputy to arrive, some random guy approached us.
“Looks like you hit a deer,” he observed.
“Yep,” I replied. “Pretty much ruined our night. The deer’s too.”
“So,” said the guy, “You gonna pick up the deer? If you don’t want it, can I have it?”
I told the guy to help himself to the carcass. Because at that moment, we’d had our fill of grilled venison.