It takes a lot to unnerve the Evil Cyclist. Without tooting my horn more that it deserves ( which is still a fair amount), I've seen it all.
So, the Friday commute to Evil Labs was fairly typical. Nice weather, just getting warmed up and in a bit of a self absorbed zone. I was riding the shoulder and I noticed up ahead a deer which had clearly been hit laying across most of the shoulder and a bit into the roadway. It was obviously fresh, and not as gory as these types of things often are. Also, not all that rare. I see deer along the road regularly, and as a cyclist, I notice it more than drivers, especially after it has time to ferment a bit.
So, to set the scene, deer head is laying facing to the right of the shoulder with about 1 foot to pass between the head and the grass at the right side of the shoulder, rear is somewhat out in the traffic lane to the left. Tongue hanging out of the mouth in a typical pose, but again, not too much blood or gore, and none of the signs that the carnage was anything but fairly new. No flies, no smell, no additional tire marks or impact trails.
I'm staring at the body as I ride by, again, very close, and the deer lifts up its head to look at me, tongue still lolling out. Whoaaaa! My skin immediately crawled right off my body. It was the most macabre thing I have ever seen in real life and I very nearly drove off the road. I starting seeing stars and realized it was because, although the physical effort of my cycling had continued on autopilot, I had stopped breathing for a few seconds.
The deer was clearly not dead, and therefore clearly quite miserable and suffering. You may have noticed the empathy is not my strong suite. I've done my share of hunting and seen plenty of dead animals. However suffering, dying animals are somewhat different. That bothers me.
As troubling was the fact that there was little I could do. An injured animal, especially one as big as a deer, is not to be trifled with. Really, the only solution was to put it out of its misery, a task for which, at the time, I was ill equipped. I did not even have a number for animal control, which I would presume, are better equipped. Its also possible that in the next few minutes, another car or truck finished the job. However, I am a bit haunted by the fact that the animal continued to suffer as I rode away. Still haunted several days later.