“White-tailed deer are entering a period of increased activity and are crossing roads more frequently as a result,” said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “While drivers should always remain alert and on the lookout for whitetails crossing roads, there is reason to pay particular attention while behind the wheel now and in the coming weeks.”
Deer become more active in autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” Around this time, many yearling bucks disperse from the areas in which they were born and travel, sometimes several dozen miles, to find new ranges. Meanwhile, adult bucks more often are cruising their home ranges in search of does, and they sometimes chase the does they encounter.
Add to this the fact autumn sees a number of people taking part in outdoor activities that might flush deer from forested areas or briar thickets, and that deer are more actively feeding to store energy for winter months, and it quickly becomes evident why motorists might be more likely to encounter deer on roads.
When daylight saving time ends Nov. 6, there also will be increased vehicular traffic between dusk and dawn – the peak hours for deer activity.
Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Motorists are urged to pay particular attention while driving on stretches marked with “Deer Crossing” signs.
Learn what to do if you have a deer-vehicle collision.
Tips for motorists
- 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.