Is it just me, or are the deer in this town cockier than other deer? Are there any Athenians who’ve lived here for more than a year who haven’t at least almost run over a deer with their car? I’ve almost hit a huge variety of deer combinations: one deer, two deer, a family of four deer/two deer couples on a double date. Once, late at night, I had to hit the brakes hard and skid to a Dukes of Hazard sliding stop in the middle of West Lake to avoid hitting what looked to be an entire mobile community of deer, a large group of wandering four-legged Bedouin. They all lived. So did my car. But, while I was idling and smelling the burning rubber of my tires, waiting for my heart rate to drop and watching deer after deer slowly cross the road, seemingly oblivious to the fact that all of us just nearly died, I had to wonder why the hell Athens has the most brazen deer in the world.
The one thing that the gigantic variety of deer that I’ve almost killed have in common is that none of them have been afraid of me.
Aren’t deer known for being skittish? Aren’t they prey animals? Don’t their African cousins have to routinely run away from lions? I’ve seen the footage.
Do Athens’ deer ever get postcards from their friends in other parts of the state, areas where all men over the age of seven own shotguns, areas where mounted animal heads are as much a part of home decoration as carpet and toilets? Do our local deer know just how good they’ve got it? It is a rhetorical question, but I think we all know the answer.
I do have a solution. I propose a new ACC policy, the Deer Reality Check Initiative, or, since it’s now mandatory that every phrase over two words long needs to go by its acronym, the DRCI. The DRCI is a lot like the Rotary Club international kid-swap, but much less important. Once we adopt the DRCI as law, we’ll begin sending one of our complacent Athens deer to somewhere in South Georgia for a year. In return they, the county in South Georgia, will send one of their understandably frightened deer up here for a year. In the next 12 months, both deer will learn about a culture different from their own. After a year, we swap them back, provided that the Athens deer’s head isn’t mounted on a wall in Valdosta, and the South Georgia deer didn’t overdose after his third rap/metal band broke up. This groundbreaking program, the DRCI, should solve our deer problem. I don’t want to shoot the deer. It’s nice that they consider our town a safe haven from their usual early morning slaughter zones in the rest of the state, but I still want them to run away when they get busted eating our flowers. They still need to flee in panicked terror when a one-ton motorized vehicle barrels toward them and their children at three in the morning. I’m not trying to rid the town of deer. In fact, the very reason for the DRCI is to keep our deer alive. Is it too much to ask that we do it in a way that also protects our hood ornaments?