I may only post this in the morning (Canucki time) but it’s 11.30pm and I am shaken. Not stirred, but quite, decidedly shaken!
This afternoon I went to visit some friends outside town, and was heading back along dirt logging roads in the late evening, enjoying sights like this (unedited, as shot with my phone).
My headlights were on, and several times a hare would dart out from the right, in front of my car and into the bush on the left of the road. Every time from the right, bizarrely enough. Twice, the hares didn’t make it. And I was shaken at each thud. I hate killing things. I took a photo of one of the dead bunnies at the side of the road, its beautiful, big, back feet motionless, it’s eyes without life. And I was sad.
But on I had to drive – it was getting dark quickly and I wanted to get onto the main road and home before it was pitch black. I’ve heard too many stories of people hitting deer and moose on these Cariboo roads at night …
Shortly after I turned onto the tar I noticed a deer standing to the right of the road munching on some grass in a ditch. I switched my high beams on, my music and my speed down, keeping my eyes peeled on the verge for more wildlife.
And then, only a few kilometres later, my life running in slow motion, I noticed a cow moose gracefully jogging towards me across the middle line from the left. It was quite surreal; dreamy.
“Wow I’ve never seen a moose before,” I thought to myself in a split second. “That’s so cool! Actually, hold on! That’s a MOOSE! Approaching at speed!”
Wildlifecollisions.ca gives this advice about hitting a moose while driving:
- Determine what the animal is doing and where it is going.
- Do not take unsafe evasive actions.
- If you have to choose between swerving or striking a moose, consider swerving. A collision with a moose … carries a significant risk of injury or death to motorists and passengers.
- If you must hit something, try for a glancing blow rather than a head-on hit.
- Brake firmly and quickly, then look, and steer your vehicle to strike the animal at an angle.
Well, let me tell you, that’s all good advice, but when one sees a moose loping towards one’s vehicle, pure adrenaline, intuition and driving experience takes over. My military driving instructor told me a few decades back when I was learning to drive that if a dog or cat ran out in front of my car that the safest option was not to swerve. But this was no wee pet, this was a 1,5m tall, 350kg lumbering body on sticks. (I admit, I’m taking a wild guess at her size. Obviously I had no time to weigh her or ask how tall she was.)
I determined that the moose was heading straight for my car, that I was probably going to hit it and possibly get crushed as I broke its legs and its body came lurching through the windshield. I’m sorry for the graphic image – I’m just quoting Wikipedia’s description of what happens when a car collides with a moose.
And so I took evasive action. I stood on the brakes, swerved to the right (yes, towards where it was going) and then left, back onto the road, clipping the lone animal with my mirror, which exploded in a wallop of plastic and glass.
Coming to a stop a few metres down the road, I sat still for a few seconds, staring at the mess of wire and plastic where once there was a side mirror. Fortunately there wasn’t a gaping hole in my car door, and the airbags hadn’t deployed. On closer observation, I determined that the mirror had taken the brunt of the collision, with the door sustaining only a few scratches. I turned around to go and check on the animal but there was no sign of her. No hair, no blood, no carcass. In fact, the only indication of my close encounter with a meandering midnight moose was a swathe of mirror shards across the tar.
Now, lying in bed, writing this blogpost, I’m still shaken but grateful that the only damage was to a mirror that can be replaced. And hoping that Mrs Moose really did walk away with only a bad bruising and a headache for a day.