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Today, coming off the Chicago Skyway, I was reminded of how I learned how useless “deer whistles,” little motion-powered whistle devices still sold that attach to a front bumper or grill, and are supposed to scare off deer approaching a roadway. Vicki was driving on our way back from Michigan and I spotted a little pug dog and her pup sauntering into our lane, headed for the median. Vicki quickly checked her rear mirror and braked hard, and the dogs made it safely off the road.
I recall that in the 80s and 90s, my mother who lived in Door County, WI, told me how terrific those little deer whistles sold in truck stops and hardware stores were in warning off animals. I bought a pair for my new company car, in 1995, a silver Lincoln that came with a new vice presidency in my firm. Driving from the Chicago western suburbs into southern Wi, where we had a weekend home, a deer suddenly burst from the trees and leaped into the road directly in front of my car. It was as if the whistle had called out “com-ere-deer.” As my bumper hit the animal at 55 MPH, it projected the deer into the windshield, bending the double-pane glass inward, but not breaking it. The sunroof popped open, the air bags inflated and the door sprung open. As I recovered, I braked and held the wheel straight. I was OK, but my brand new Lincoln was a wreck and had to be towed. Two farmers came up and asked if I was all right, and when I said yes, they asked if I planned to claim the deer. For what, I queried? They ran down the road and checked it out, came back and said just a crushed haunch. Guess they were in for some venison steaks.
The police drove me to a local McDonald’s, where I called my wife to pick me up. The manager brought me a coffee, and said when he worked at a less demanding fast food place, he kept a police radio in the kitchen, and when it reported a deer/car crash, they’d speed off to see if they could claim the deer. I’d never heard of this form of deer stalking, or deer hunting. I learned, the hard way, that anyone who bought a deer whistle was very naive indeed. Here’s a You Tube piece that gives the low-down on deer whistles.