The night I was nearly killed by a kamikaze deer

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It was a dark and stormy night. The dense trees on either side of the unlit road whooshed past, the occasional fifty-five speed limit and mileage sign illuminated by my high-beams.

A lonely and slightly eerie feeling pressed against my car, as if carried by the wind and rain. As I hurtled on, I noticed what appeared to be some movement in the brush off to the side ahead, before a large creature emerged.

I pushed the brake, slowing down significantly and watching both sides of the road carefully, anticipating something to jump out at my car.

With the rain beating from the outside, it was nearly impossible to see or hear anything, but I was on high alert, staring back and forth, trying with every ounce of my energy to spot any danger.

Finally it happened, so sudden I almost didn't catch it in time.

With a strong leap, a large buck was unexpectedly in front of me, and time seemed to slow momentarily. I stared in shock out my windshield and from behind the whipping wipers the animal was caught in a graceful arc over the hood of my vehicle, legs and body perfectly balanced, coat shining in the rain, antlers majestic as a shock of lightning danced dramatically through the black sky.

I slammed the brake and blared my horn, sliding and fishtailing down the road. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally came to a stop, initial shock cold as the storm pounded outside my car.

When I came back to reality, I realized the deer had escaped with its life, and in turn so had I.

Slowly I let up on the brake and corrected myself, and before I knew it I was once more on my way, again watching the road with utmost caution.

Tips for your own kamikaze deer encounters:
- Notice areas posted with deer crossing signs, areas known to have a large deer population, and areas where roads divide agricultural fields and forest lands. SLOW DOWN in these areas!
- Constantly be on the lookout for deer and other animals. Survey the surrounding fields and roadsides as you are driving - especially during dawn and dusk. You will often be able to see deer before they get close to the road.
- If you see a deer near the road, SLOW DOWN and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten it away.
- Keep in mind that if you see one deer there are usually others nearby.
- Use your high beams if no traffic is approaching. They will illuminate the deer sooner than low beams, allowing greater reaction time.
- If a deer should dart in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but stay in your lane. Do not swerve to avoid hitting it (unless you're on a motorcycle). This can confuse the deer on where to run and can also cause you to lose control.
- Don't think you are protected from deer or car collisions by using deer whistles or reflectors; according to the Insurance Information Institute, "these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions."
- As always, wear your seat belt for safety and for deer-collision safety in particular. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
- If you do hit a deer, don't get out of the car. An injured deer, frightened or wounded, can be dangerous. If the deer is blocking the roadway, call the police.
- DO NOT believe that deer collisions are "unavoidable."
- Report any deer collisions to Wing Safety on the Air Education and Training Command Form 435.