In the middle of Illinois, about 11pm and just as I'd drifted off to sleep, something caused me to sit straight up. My eyes landed on a bulky pondering buck hesitating on the shoulder of the highway. Just as Jay said, "He's gonna go," that buck stuck out his tongue with forced determination and stepped forward toward our rig (a.k.a. Honda minivan and pull-behind Chalet camper).
I braced myself and listened for the impending THUD. Hearing nothing, I was surprised when Jay say, "We got 'em." He pulled over. Grabbing a head lamp, I jumped out and went to survey the damage.
Huh? I didn't see any damage - to the van or camper. I would have written Jay off as just over-tired except that a semi had pulled over behind us. I just stood and stared at the side of the camper. As Jay came around the van to check things out, it came to me - something was missing: the lift bar on the hydraulic lift for the camper roof was missing. Darn it! The brackets were there, set screws still intact, but no bar.
Turning on my heel I marched down the highway looking for the missing piece. The trucker met me part way," Is everyone OK?"
"Yeah - I'm just missing part of my camper. Did we actually hit it?" I asked.
"You got 'em. He's behind my truck a little. But be careful. He's still alive. He broke his rack and he's pretty pissed off. I don't want to go back there too close. He's huge."
Crack! The rustling beside us indicated the buck had moved back toward the corn field and was trying to get back over the barbed wire fence. The truck driver walked with me a few hundred yards and retrieved our twisted and bent lift bar from the middle of the right lane.
After learning the deer was likely only dazed, we were on our way again. And the kids never stirred. I hope we can set up the camper without that piece!