Two Decades of Deductible Deer

You can only imagine what Mark Burdick’s insurance agent thinks this time of year when she receives a call from the Westfield, Pennsylvania driver and auto policyholder.

Like, “Oh no, not you again!!”

That’s because Burdick has a lot of experience whacking whitetail with a motor vehicle in the past two decades.
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How many? Like five or six? A dozen?

Deer-slayer Burdick has put a total of 21 ungulates on the pavement since he was first issued his first operator’s license 19 years ago.

He’s recorded one triple-bill and has left roadkill behind for highway crews to remove in four different states.

“I have hit them in Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky and Tennessee,” Burdick told the Elmira/Corning Star-Gazette. “I guess I just have a knack for it.”

And while every crash has proved fatal for the critters meeting the business end of his bumper, Burdick has received nary a scratch.

“I have hit them with everything from personal vehicles to military vehicles,” he said. “I even tagged one with a fire truck.”
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Burdick attributes his providence for deer-smacking to his nocturnal commute. The 911 dispatcher works the graveyard shift at the Tioga County Communications Center in Wellsboro, and the highway along his 25-mile drive to work is, well, darned-good deer habitat.

His worst crash—even nastier than his triple-header two years ago—involved a massive 10-point buck and his former 1995 Dodge Avenger.

“It popped the airbags,” he said. “It went up on the hood. Back onto the roof and then the trunk. It damaged the front end, the roof, the trunk. I don’t think there was anything that wasn’t dented. That was…close to $7,000. That deer was huge.”

As the rutting season begins in earnest this month, Burdick offered suggestions for drivers who encounter deer on the roadways.

“Don’t swerve. Don’t go off the road to miss a deer. It’s much better to hit a deer than to hit a tree or another vehicle. But…it depends on what you’re driving,” said the man who now wisely owns a pickup fitted with a heavy-duty grill guard.

And another thing: locate a compassionate and understanding insurance agent.

“I have a local agent, and I thought I was setting some kind of record, but she told me that some people have hit even more deer than I have,” Burdick says.