As veteran deer hunters know, November signals the start of the deer rut in Pennsylvania when male deer begin chasing female deer to mate. This means deer will be on the move and active. Plus, daylight-saving time, that occurred this weekend, will put more vehicles on the road during the hours when deer move the most meaning during dusk and dawn. As such, the Pennsylvania Game Commission advises motorists to slow down and stay alert as this is the time most vehicle-deer collisions occur.
This is the period, says the PGC, when yearling bucks disperse from the areas in which they were born and travel, sometimes several miles to find new ranges. At the same time, adult bucks are cruising their home ranges in search of does, and will chase the does they encounter resulting in more deer crossing roads.
According to the PGC, data from around the country indicates Pennsylvania drivers face some of the highest risks of a vehicle collision with a deer or other large animal. A recent report shows Pennsylvania led the country in animal-collision insurance claims in the fiscal year 2022-23. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania drivers, according to the report, have a 1-in-59 chance of a vehicular accident involving a big game animal – one of the highest rates nationwide.
The PGC says that drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and attempt to understand deer behavior. Paying attention while driving on stretches marked “Deer Crossing” signs can make a difference as that’s the location of most deer accidents.
Deer often travel in groups and walk single file. So even if one deer crosses the road in front of you, it doesn’t necessarily mean the threat is over. Another one or more could be right behind it.
This is especially true now as there’s still amount of standing corn where deer could pop out and not be seen until they’re on the roadway. Last year at this time a doe followed by a buck ran out in front of my car as they emerged from the edge of standing corn on Rural Road, down from Lazarus’s Market located off Mauch Chunk Road. Later that week on Mauch Chunk a farmer was taking down the corn on the east side of road when a nice buck ran across the highway and into standing corn on the other side of the road and on land owned by GES Chemicals (former Trojan Powder Co.). And this was at 9:30 a.m.
A driver who hits a deer with a vehicle is not required to report the accident to the PGC. If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass as there probably is some edible venison remaining. If it’s a buck, you may not keep the antlers that must be turned into the PGC. To do so, you can call the PGC (833-PGC-HUNT or 833-PGC-Wild and a dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number that is needed to claim the carcass. Residents must call within 24 hours of taking possession. A passing motorist may also claim the deer if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn’t want it.
If a deer is struck and is not killed, drivers are urged to maintain their distance because some deer may recover and move on. If it’s a buck, it could charge and gore you. Drivers should call the PGC or local law enforcement and they’ll deal with it.
To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call PennDOT (800-FIX-Road), and they’ll pick it up.
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.