New York Mills driver 'attacked' by 14 point buck
There's an old newspaper saying that when dog bites man, it isn't news. But if man bites dog -- that is news.
Deer-car collisions are as common as speeding tickets around these parts. But when a 14 point whitetail buck takes on a late-model Chevy Impala moving at 40 mph--head on--now that, folks, is news.
That is exactly what happened to ACS sales representative and New York Mills resident Charlie Baune. The accident occurred about 9 a.m. on Nov. 6.
He was on the road near Backus, about 40 miles north of Brainerd, when he spotted a large buck on the shoulder of Highway 371.
He slowed down to about 40 miles per hour, and it looked like the buck would trot off to safety.
"But then he turned on a dime and came straight at my car," said Baune.
With oncoming traffic, all Baune could do was swerve slightly to avoid a complete, direct, head-on confrontation with the charging animal. He turned his head away from the impact and closed his eyes.
With antlers poised to do damage, the deer head-butted the Impala and crashed head first into the passenger side of the windshield.
The gaping hole in the windshield was almost the identical shape of a deer mount.
"The guy driving behind me said the deer flew 20 feet into the air," said Baune. The 14 point rack of antlers was entangled in the interior of the car, and the entire weight of the deer flipped over and up into the air, speculated Baune.
"If I had a passenger in the car, it would have been ugly," he added. Nancy Schmitz from Perham's Schmitz Auto Body, where the Chevy was brought for repairs, firmly believes a passenger would have been killed -- possibly being impaled by the deer's antlers.
Checking the repair histories at the Schmitz shop, Nancy said 15 percent of the repair jobs in October were due to deer -- plus one racoon collision. Already in November, 30 percent of the jobs have been due to deer damage.
Looking back at 2006, on a statewide basis, there were 400 car-deer collisions, said Nancy Schmitz. Three of those involved driver or passenger fatalities.
Nationwide, Minnesota and Wisconsin are consistently in the top ten as far as the total number of car-deer accidents. Which state has been first the past two years? Pennsylvania.
As for Baune, he was still cleaning up the mess two days later.
"I'm still picking pieces of glass from my work files that were on the passenger's seat," said Baune.
Killed instantly, the huge animal landed in the middle of the highway.
"It's rutting season. There was probably a doe around, he was spooked -- but courageous enough that he thought he would charge me," said Baune.
An Onamia area native, Baune has been with ACS for five years. He moved to the area after marrying a New York Mills woman, Tara Perala.