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The Daily Tar Heel

I have come to think that if Michael Vick had been running a deer-fighting ring, even PETA would have been tempted to place a bet and cheer on.

Deer — the 300-pound equivalent of a squirrel sans agility — have become a major fear (Halloween costume?) in Chapel Hill, home to as many as 700 deer.

The jumbo-rodents remain a problem despite chatter about doing something for all seven years I’ve lived here. The town council is pondering solutions again, but still, the only thing affecting the population is the automobile.

“Why so bitter, Sam?” Guess.

Like an out-of-control novice on skates, one recently ran into my car, after I had stopped, leaving a big, lovely dent. It will cost $700 to repair (my deductible is $500).

What really upset me was that the four-legged Ray Lewis rammed my car with its shoulder like a blind-side linebacker blitz and used the transfer of momentum to the structure of my vehicle to stop, turn 90 degrees and run off in one fluid motion, injury-free. Any deer capable of that should be plucked out of the gene pool.

While it’s not too comforting, I am not alone in such assaults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that annually, 1.5 million car accidents nationwide involve deer. The cost: $1 billion in damage, 150 lives and 10,000 injuries.

State Farm Insurance just released its annual report on deer-vehicle collisions. The odds of a driver hitting a deer within the next year in North Carolina are 1 in 147. If you drive for 75 years, you have about a 50 percent chance of nailing Bambi in your lifetime.

The Town of Chapel Hill is once again discussing how to control the deer population. Unfortunately, urban archery, a program that would bring in licensed archers in areas where there aren’t many hunters, has been ruled out as not being viable. So, what do we do?

Introducing a natural predator is more than likely a bad idea. And given the population, birth control (as is done with horses on the Outer Banks) isn’t viable, either. I don’t think my homeowners association would like me firing off paintballs at the herd often camped out, eating and defecating in front of our complex.

Why not allow a quiet bow and arrow to take care of the issue? If the meat turned out to be good, plenty of venison would be available to donate to feed people.

Before you resort back to thinking of Bambi’s pitiful, glassy cartoon eyes (that movie must have been deer-funded, image-boosting propaganda), remember that deer are causing a number of other problems, from spreading Lyme disease-carrying ticks to eating gardens, which forces spending on more plants and fencing.

Perhaps we’ve encroached on their habitat and should just learn to be cautious. Perhaps the dent has left my car more aerodynamic (it works for golf balls, right?). Pardon me, the pessimist and the voice of reason in me just bludgeoned the optimist in me.

I’ve seen far too many wrecks in Chapel Hill involving deer. Sure, this used to be their habitat, but deer are essentially squirrels capable of major damage. Plus, we’ve removed their predators for our own safety, so we need to fill that niche. And it’s a lot safer and cheaper to do it with bows and arrows than our cars.

Sam Perkins is an At-Large Columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. He is a second-year marine sciences graduate student from Charlotte. Email him at

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