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My husband and I are avid/aggressive snowmobilers with about 15 years experience under our belts. We have a camp (called The Snowdrift Inn) on the Tug Hill Plateau in New York State, which is where we do most of our riding. We were on our last ride of the season (March 24, 2007), the trails were good, and we were having a ball. We actually met (by chance) Blair Morgan and Martin at Cedar Pines in Osceola, NY, where we had stopped for lunch. They were so nice and friendly, they even signed my husband’s shirt.

The weather had started to turn kind of rainy so we decided to start back to camp early. We had already put 200 miles on for the weekend and we were satisfied. The trails were really in good shape for spring, but were expected to deteriorate quickly in the coming week. Temperatures were being forecast in the 50’s and 60’s. Deer were out in full force starting to feed on the patches of grass showing in the fields. Spring had sprung.

As we approached the last 30 seconds of our ride, it was dusk (7:30/8:00) I had our camp lights in my sight and squeezed the throttle for the last time of the season. My 2006 Ski Doo MXZ X package (lovingly named Rhonda’s X) by my husband, was screaming along doing about 50-60 miles per hour in our open field. My husband was in front of me and I was watching his tail light pull up to our trailer and…BAM!

All I saw was a glimpse of fur directly in front of me coming from the right, a thud and impact. I heard my sled wind down (my tether let lose), lots of scraping noise from my X rolling and tumbling end over end, and by me sliding on my back across the snow.

I never lost consciousness, I just kept thinking…”this is going to hurt”. I heard all the noise ahead of me. I appeared to be behind all of it, so maybe I’d be ok. I also figured that even if I needed medical attention, we would need access to a real phone to call for help (as most cell phones DO NOT have signal on The Hill).

The next thing I knew…everything was quiet and still. I opened my eyes. As I lay on the ground, I assessed my body for injuries without moving. My right forearm hurt, but not terribly. Everything else appeared to be fine. I immediately looked for the deer, hoping it wasn’t suffering. It didn’t move…it was dead.

My sled was in pieces all over the field and I looked up towards camp realizing my husband had no idea what happened. A minute later, he came towards me on his sled.

When he got to me (I was about 700 yards from my camp) he yelled, “Are you ok? What happened? I said, “I hit a deer,” and I pointed to it. It all happened so fast. I didn’t even see it coming.

It was getting dark, there were grassy patches in the field and I never suspected a deer to be on a collision course with me. I hit the deer throttling at 50-60 mph. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t see it coming. I was in a relaxed sitting position leaning back on the sled upon impact. I think that’s why I flew off the rear of the sled and was able to slide on my back for what turned out to be roughly 105 feet. I didn’t roll at all, I just slid like a rag doll for what seemed like an eternity.

When I got back to camp, we called the police for an accident report. I was ok, but covered in fur and fluids. The shield on my helmet was plastered with white belly fur, to the point that I couldn’t see. I’m wondering if the deer actually pushed me off the sled with its body. I guess I’ll never know, but what I do know is that was one hell of a last ride! I’m now known by my camp neighbors as the deer slayer.

Rhonda Bertollini-Henderson
Jordan, NY

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