Last Sunday afternoon, I decided I would do some work in town to get ahead of my work week, it wasn’t a lot of work, but doing it early meant I would be able to do more and larger jobs the following week. I had finished merchandising in the second store, decided I wanted to get some dinner and head home. It was a quiet evening, the sun was long down, there were only a few other cars on the rural mountain road between towns. There had been some fog in the town I had just left, but that cleared out and it was a beautiful evening.
I always drive much slower than the posted speed limit (70 MPH) after dark out here because of the critters that sometimes line the side of the road, deer, javalina, wild hogs, skunks, coyote, fox… I was cruising along at about 50, I came around a curve and there she was, a hefty specimen of elk. She was standing on the shoulder of the road, nearly in the grass, I began to brake, but since she was not IN the road, and she wasn’t moving around, I didn’t brake hard. That’s when she decided to make a move, she hopped right into the front of my truck. BANG!
Hitting animals is something that many folk out here have done, the biggest problem comes from trying to steer around an animal that has just jumped in front of you, that’s when you lose control and end up rolling your vehicle or hitting something else, you often end up hitting the animal anyhow.
The impact was not as violent as I expected it to be, I did not lose control, I felt the truck go nose down and take a small hop, the elk’s body neatly cradled into my grille dead center, her neck wrapped around the driver’s side light, smashing it, her head put a big dent into my fender. All I saw was an explosion of fur and plastic parts, then she was gone.
This is the part of the story where people ask, “Did you go back for the elk? They are good eats!”, and the answer is a resounding no, I would love to eat some elk, but right then I was in too much shock, this was my first experience hitting a large animal like this, I was thinking about how much damage was inflicted on my truck, when would the engine begin to overheat, I was certain my radiator was toast, I just wanted to get home and I had a ways to go. I drove on for less than a minute, then pulled over, grabbing a flashlight, I surveyed the damage, it looked pretty bad, my grille was gone, the air conditioner condenser coil and my radiator were smashed, one headlight was smashed, the hood was crumpled up.
I looked under the front end and nothing was leaking or pouring out, the smashed headlight was still lit and even pointed, more or less in the right direction, the engine sounded OK, I could hear nothing that indicated the fan was hitting anything, of course that could mean it was not spinning at all. So I got back in and drove on. I had a big hill to get over, and as long as the truck was still running OK, I was going to go as far as I could, then call for someone to come get me, I still had another 30 something miles to drive.
I was able to get home just fine, I watched the gauges, especially the oil and temperature, the only difference I saw in the temp was it cooled off a bit more, as a result of having less stuff impeding the airflow to the radiator.
Since that day, PB checked it out, has straightened out quite a bit of the truck, I ordered 2 replacement headlightsfrom Amazon, once they get here, I’ll be legal to drive again. The truck has very little major damage, in spite of how it looks, I discovered that everything still works, the radiator, the fan, even the air conditioner still works though none of them are where they should be. All of those things need to be secured back into place, right now they are flopping around, only held in place by their hoses and perhaps one connection, I had a friend pick me up for church because I didn’t want to risk bouncing something loose on our roads, I certainly had major praises to give at church.
We are working on getting a brush guard for the truck, they are not cheap, but they are worth it, PB want’s to “Mad Max” my truck and I’m going to let him :) Oh and I don’t recommend elk hunting with a truck, not unless you are armor plated….
That was my adventure last week, how about you?
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