I drove to my sister’s and brother-in-law’s house at dusk tonight to take them dinner. As I was leaving my neighborhood, five deer crossed in front of my car. They often cross in this area of the road, so I’ve come to expect it and drive particularly slow when I approach that area. On the way to their house, I saw numerous deer feeding on the side of the road. As I was leaving their house and driving down my sisters extra long driveway, there were six deer in her front yard. Then as I was nearing home (it being completely dark now), I spotted a rather large buck (something I rarely see around here) laying on the neighbor’s driveway. He eyed me as I drove by slowly but never budged from his resting spot. I slowed and through my open car window, I heard him snort at me as I slowed down to admire him. He was warning me to keep my distance!
Deer are crepuscular meaning they are more likely to appear or are more active at twilight. I always drive very cautiously at dawn or dusk when I know they are more likely to be on the move.
Yesterday, my husband and I left the house at 6:45 am to drive to the downtown area for early morning doctor appointments. We saw a young deer dead in the highway and a few feet ahead was a doe who had caused a nightmare of a bloody mess in the road. Several miles later, another dead deer. “Looks like it was a bad night for deer last night,” I told hubby. He nodded his head in agreement.
Have you ever wondered why more deer get hit this time of year than any other season of the year?
When I worked at Opryland Theme Park’s petting zoo as a teenager, there was a separate deer petting area. Bucks, does, and fawns were kept together in the deer petting area. They were pen raised, hand-fed deer and very used to humans and human touching. Each employee in the petting zoo had to rotate to the deer petting area and sit in the booth there for several hours to sell deer feed to the customers who wanted to feed the deer. I loved working in that little feed booth and it was there that I learned a lot about deer behavior. It was there that I learned about deer rutting behavior. I had a lot of time to just sit and observe the deer over the years. The park would close during the week in autumn but would remain open on weekends until mid November. While the bucks were gentle as lambs during the spring and summer, we always had to remove them from the deer petting area at the end of October when the rutting season began, because they would seem to go nuts and act all maniacal! They like to rub their antlers on trees during the rutting period and we witnessed more head butting (both with other deer and the guests). They got wilder and more aggressive with their antlers, and would rear up on their hind legs more, so every year they were removed from the park to a field.
The mating season for white-tailed deer around here is around Halloween through December. During the rutting season, deer are on the move more and they seem to lose all sense of their surroundings. The males have only one thing on their mind– finding a doe and mating.
Testosterone makes the bucks more active and gets the female deer on the run, especially if the female is not in her receptive period. That’s why you will see more deer crossing your path this time of year and why more deer get hit in October and November than any other time of the year.
Pay attention to the yellow diamond-shaped reflective deer crossing signs. These are placed in areas where there are known to be a high number of deer crossings. Be alert this time of year, particularly at dawn and dusk. Be especially careful when you’re driving in areas that have wooded areas that run right alongside the roadway. Deer can do a lot of damage to vehicles and injure humans when they come crashing through windshields. This time of year, there are more deer related fatalities.
If possible drive with your headlights on to increase your visibility and if you see one deer, SLOW DOWN and be aware that there are probably more close by that you can’t see. I know this is easier said than done, but try not to swerve if you see a deer. Swerving can cause you to lose control, hit another car, or run off the road and hit a tree or other object.
If you do happen to hit a deer, it is not recommended that you get out and approach the deer. It is best to pull over to a safe place and call the police or 911 if there are injuries. Deer not killed on impact can be extremely dangerous! I had a veterinarian friend who once hit a deer on his way to work a shift at the Emergency Clinic. The deer was down and not moving and the veterinarian in him wanted to help the poor animal. He got out of his truck to take a closer look. At first glance, the deer appeared to be severely injured and in shock. When he was bending down, trying to assess the deer’s condition, suddenly the very frightened animal came to life and kicked out at my friend with great force. The deer jumped to its feet and went bounding off at lightning speed. My friend said it went from a near death stunned state, to lightning quick speed, in the blink of an eye. He said he couldn’t believe the power in the deer’s kick. He’s lucky he came away with just a nasty bruise to the upper abdomen and didn’t end up with a ruptured spleen or worse yet, eviscerated. I can’t emphasize enough that deer have extremely powerful kicks and sharp hooves which can easily kill a human.
Have you ever hit a deer while driving? What was the outcome?