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When the leaves start to turn and the need arises to burn the first fire in the woodstove, hunters are afield for whitetail deer, either by archery or muzzleloader. The rutting season for deer starts this time of year, and rutting-age bucks are on the move, sporting antlers to spar with other competing males as they seek suitable females. However, other males are not the only adversary bucks will face this season; because of their behavior during the rut, they are also at risk when near a road.
Deer are less likely to stop at the edge of the road during the rut. If the male is chasing females, caution goes by the wayside, and the females in front may not stop because of the male that is in pursuit. Consequently, this is when the most car/deer collisions occur. In a recent press release, the Pennsylvania insurance commissioner said, “Fall is breeding season for deer, and they may be less aware of their surroundings. Deer also often travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are often more nearby.” According to insurance industry data, November is the top month for deer-related crashes. September comes in second and December comes in third.
The PA Game Commission has some tips for avoiding a deer/automobile collision:
• Don’t count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads in front of you. Stay alert.
• Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.
• Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population, where deer-crossing signs are posted, places where deer commonly cross roads, areas where roads divide agricultural fields from woods, and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.
• Deer do unpredictable things. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross and quickly re-cross back from where they came. Sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. Assume nothing. Slow down; blow your horn to urge the deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road; don’t try to go around it.