Heading home on Rte. 8 at twilight Monday after visiting my mother — a trip I make almost every day since she moved into an assisted-living facility more than a year ago.

As I banked the Harley into the series of turns between Riner and the Litlle River bridge, I caught the glimpse of a doe running across the road from left to right.  I swerved the bike to the left to miss the deer as she raced across the road but — in the gathering darkness — did not see the fawn following her until it was too late.

The engine guard of the motorcycle caught the small deer in the hindquarters and spun the animal around.  Its head struck my right leg and its torso crashed into the saddlebag on the right of the bike.

Somehow, I stayed upright and brought the Harley to a quick stop.  A car behind me swerved to miss the small deer laying in the road and stopped.

“Jesus Christ man,” the driver said. “Did you just hit that deer?”

“Yeah,” I said, still shaking from the encounter.

“How did you keep from growing down?”

“I have no idea.”

I pulled a flashlight from a saddlebag and looked for damage on the bike. Other than some deer fur on the crash bar and lid from the saddlebag popped open, nothing seemed out of place.  My leg ached from the collision with the deer’s head.

Another driver stopped and helped us move the lifeless body of the fawn to the side of the road.  The deer’s mother, I suspect, was close by…watching.

Other drivers came by and asked if everything was all right.  The driver who saw me hit the deer gave me his business card and address in case I had any insurance issues and I closed the saddle bag lid, climbed back on the bike and headed home — at a more sedate pace.

In 2008, I hit a deer in the early morning hours on U.S. 221 at the bottom of Bent Mountain. The deer went down with a broken hip. I stayed upright.  A month later, I laid the bike down after swerving into the entrance to Great Oaks Country Club to miss a deer on a Saturday night.

On each occasion, skill have nothing do to surviving a usually-deadly encounter between a motorcycle and a deer — just luck…and maybe something more.

Monday was the fourth anniversary of the death of Floyd Countian Robert Pauley, who died on October 3, 2007, when his motorcycle struck a deer on Meadow Creek Road near Riner.

Somebody was watching over me on Rte. 8 Monday evening.  Maybe it was Robert.