If you've driven a car or other vehicle for any length of time, chances are you've had a few near misses, and hopefully not many direct hits of critters crossing the road. I hit my first (and hopefully last) deer on the curve out by Cullison one foggy morning about 11 years ago. I had […]

If you've driven a car or other vehicle for any length of time, chances are you've had a few near misses, and hopefully not many direct hits of critters crossing the road.
I hit my first (and hopefully last) deer on the curve out by Cullison one foggy morning about 11 years ago. I had just started my present job with the area agency on aging and was on the way out to Dodge for some training.
Of course, I've had a few close calls with deer since then, with some a bit too close for comfort. It seems like anytime I pick up a newspaper lately I read about a fatality accident involving deer or some other animal. That is very sad.
One of the more unusual near misses I had happened this past Sunday night, after dark, when a full-grown horse crossed the road in front of me a few miles south of Medicine Lodge on Highway 281. I called Barber County 911 about that one, just as I have done numerous times in the past whenever I see domestic livestock crossing or feeding along the roadside, outside of the fence.
Barber County seems to have its fair share of critters crossing the road, especially at night. Over the years, I've seen many deer alongside or crossing the road, a decent number of coyotes (including one that bounced off the side of my car late one night), and at least a bobcat or two feeding along the roadside while driving through the county.
Over in Kiowa County, while I was out cycling on a sunny day south of Belvidere, I saw a critter cross the road a little ways in front of me. When I stopped and peered in the direction it had crossed, a bobcat was sitting on some adjacent railroad tracks, staring back at me with a deep, guttural growl. 'Okay, okay, okay I'm leaving,' I told the creature, as I slowly rode away, warily.
One of my fondest wildlife near misses, since it didn't result in an accident, was when I was out biking one summer night several miles outside of Gillette, Wyoming. I think my headlight had died. As I pedaled back toward Gillette, the silence was occasionally interrupted by the sound of a pronghorn whizzing by through the darkness. Pronghorn, which some call antelope, are the fastest land mammals in North America and are capable of running over 60 mph, with sustained speeds of 45 mph. Back when I lived in Wyoming, there were easily more pronghorn than people living in that sparsely populated state, although I understand that this number has declined to around 400,000 in recent years.
Talking about Wyoming and pronghorn, I used to regularly ride a bus out of Gillette down to Laramie to visit my wife, who was finishing up her degree there. One of the bus drivers was nicknamed Swervin' Mervyn, based upon his many attempts to miss, unsuccessfully, pronghorn crossing the road.
The critters are out there, folks, especially when you're driving at night. So, keep your wildlife (and livestock) radar on, your hands on the wheel, and don't be a Swervin' Mervyn.