A Dying Doe

I had just turned onto the highway in the dark and was picking up speed as i transitioned from the 40 mph to the 65 mph zone. I had barely pressed on the gas pedal when my headlights revealed something sitting in the dividing lane between the two directions of traffic. It was a doe. A spotted axis doe, laying crumpled in the middle lane with its head up and ears back. It was clearly waiting for death. It had been hit, probably fairly recently, but not fatally. I thought about stopping to help it. That was the city girl in me. If it had been hit in Austin and was still conscious i would have called 311 and they would have sent some wildlife rescue crew to come out and scoop up the deer and rush it to some talented vet somewhere that could stop the internal bleeding and give it a second chance at life. In the country a passerby with a license to carry probably would have shot it to put it out of its misery but there was no 311 in the country and the deer would likely sit on the asphalt in the dividing lane listening to the whoosh of the cars in the night as it waited for the internal bleeding to end its life. I wanted to help the doe but i didn’t have a gun in the car and death by machete was no less painful or traumatic than death by speeding car. It was out of my hands. I carried on towards work but the wide eyes and backwards pointed ears of the badly broken deer with only its head upright as my car passed it remained etched into my brain. I wondered how long it would take for the deer to die. On my way back from work the deer had been dragged to the side of the road. It was dead and its eyes had been pecked out by the buzzards that were now fighting over its body. They dragged it further into the grass, its twisted legs moving slightly with each pull. The big black birds hopped and flapped at each other, running round the corpse to get a good piece. I wasn’t mad at them. Buzzards got a bad rap for their choice of food source. In reality, they were nature’s ultimate clean up crew. They cut down on the number of flies and maggots. They broke down corpses rather effectively, leaving only the hide and bones. Without them there’d be more stench, more flies, more maggots, and more predatory animals hanging around. They weren’t responsible for the deaths of animals. Their job didn’t begin until the animal was already dead. They were just going to work, as i had that morning. I was sad for the doe, but that was life in the country.

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