With the rut (mating season) going on right now among white-tailed deer, and with more hunters in the woods moving deer around, vehicle accidents with deer are common in the fall and drivers need to be alert to the danger as they do not act with their normal level of caution and wariness. Plus, they’re also moving from bedding areas to feed in the evening and back in the morning hours.
Whitetails Unlimited Executive Director Pete Gerl said, “Drivers need to be aware that deer are more active in the fall, particularly during the hours around dusk and dawn. During the fall and early winter deer need to find extra food sources to survive the winter, and they often find excellent food sources along roads and highways.”
According to State Farm Insurance Company, Pennsylvania ranks third in the country with the highest claims for deer accidents with one in 52 odds of hitting one. West Virginia is number one with one in 38 odds.
Here are a number of things a driver can do to be safer during this time of year:
• If you see one deer, assume there are others around. Deer often travel in groups.
• Deer crossing signs along the highway are there for a reason – deer are known to cross the road in that area. Be extra cautious in these areas.
• Be more cautious while driving at all times. Deer are normally more active between dusk and dawn and are crossing roads during the night, when visibility for drivers is at the lowest. But maintain vigilance during the day as well because during the rut, bucks are chasing doe’s and they throw all caution to the wind.
• Reduce your speed and watch the edges of the road, as well as tree lines along the highway. This is especially true with a good amount of standing corn we still have where a deer can pop out at any time. At night, drive within the limits of your headlights and use your high beams when you are able to. Headlights will pick up reflections from the deer’s eyes long before you will be able to see the entire deer. If you see these reflections, start to slow down.
• If a collision with a deer is inevitable, avoid swerving to miss the deer as you may go into a ditch or cross the centerline into oncoming traffic. Most experts advise hitting the deer instead of swerving sharply into the side of the road and possibly loosing control of the vehicle.
• If you do hit a deer, call 911 if there are injuries or if your vehicle is disabled. Insurance companies normally require a police report if there is damage that needs to be repaired. Do not approach a deer that is injured but still alive. It will be scared and want to flee, and you can be injured by hooves or antlers. Police officers and game wardens are permitted to destroy injured animals, but it is usually not legal for individuals to kill a deer out of season.
In Pennsylvania you can take the dead deer provided it’s reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s regional office and receive a permit number. If hitting a buck, the antlers must be turned over to the PGC or may be purchased for $10 per point. Removing antlers from a road-killed deer is illegal, unless it’s being claimed by the driver.
FALL TURKEY SEASON
The fall turkey season opens Oct. 31 statewide except locally in WMU’s 5C and 5D due to a lack of sustainable turkey populations. The seasons vary in some WMUs so check your Hunting/Trapping Digest for the exact season closures.
NRA’s GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOOR SHOW CANCELLED
Due to COVID-related government restrictions in Pennsylvania, the annual NRA Great American Outdoor Show, often to referred to as The Harrisburg Show among sportsmen, has been cancelled for it’s planned Feb. 6-14 run. According to an NRA press release, the show has been rescheduled for Feb. 5-13, 2022.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.