Whitetail Deer Rut Calendar

KILGORE’S CORNER: Deer rut can be bad time to be on road

Over several weeks from late October into December, deer movement increases as bucks are chasing does with just one thing on their minds.

Rut Predictions  onX Hunt
Rut Predictions onX Hunt

While drivers must always be alert to animals on the roadways, they must be especially vigilant during what is called ‘the rut’.

The rut occurs during times of fewer daylight hours and cooler weather which signals white-tailed deer to enter breeding season.

Rut Predictions  onX Hunt
Rut Predictions onX Hunt

Claiming that the deer hit her, my wife came home several years ago with a nasty dent in the side of her sedan. The deer ran off into the woods and wasn’t present to tell his side of the story.

According to the latest State Farm Insurance animal-vehicle collision study, the chances of hitting a deer, or another large animal, double in the fall.

Whitetail Rut Predictions  Deer & Deer Hunting
Whitetail Rut Predictions Deer & Deer Hunting

November is the month with the most claims followed by October and, then, December.

In 2022, there were 836 reported vehicle accidents involving deer in Oklahoma, according to AAA Oklahoma. Five people in our state died and 26 were seriously hurt.

Whitetail Rut Predictions  Deer & Deer Hunting
Whitetail Rut Predictions Deer & Deer Hunting

The Quality Deer Management Association said an estimated 1.9 million deer-vehicle collisions occur annually across the United States, causing about 200 human fatalities.

The average damage to a vehicle can be nearly $6,000.

I was surprised to see a chart that had Oklahoma as only a moderate risk state (29th), considering the number of deer carcasses I have seen to and from town lately. It lists our state risk as a 1 in 119 chance of a collision with an animal.

The top five states for animal/auto accidents, in order, are West Virginia, Montana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin for the year ending June 30, 2023.

In West Virginia, a person has a 1 in 38 chance of having an animal run into their vehicle in the next 12 months.

If you want to greatly lessen your chances, you should move to Nevada, which has a 1 in 770 chance of an automobile/animal collision, even lower than Hawaii’s rate.

The top five animal collisions reported by State Farm last year were: deer (1,288,714), unidentified animals (207,373), rodents (94,805), dogs (55,005) and raccoons (52,054).

In Oklahoma, I bet many of those “unidentified animals” were feral hogs.

State Farm Insurance shares these tips to avoid hitting a deer or other animal.

• Slow down. Watch for deer especially around dawn and between the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Be aware. Look out for deer-crossing signs and wooded areas where deer or other animals are likely to travel. If you travel the same route to and from work every day, you might find deer consistently grazing in the same fields. Make a mental note of when and where you regularly see these animals.

• Brake, don’t swerve. Serving to avoid an animal can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle. Your odds of surviving an accident are better when hitting an animal rather than hitting another car.

• Assume they have friends. The “where’s there’s one, there’s usually more” adage often holds true. Deer travel in groups.

• Don’t rely on deer whistles. Animal behavior remains unpredictable. Honk the car horn.

• Buckle up. A seat belt is your best defense. A past Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 60 percent of the people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing seat belts.

The ODWC reminded us that when a deer is killed on the roadway, the driver or anyone else can salvage the animal for its meat, provided they have the proper permissions. But, be mindful, that deer are a regulated game animal, and anyone harvesting a deer outside of the normal hunting regulations must first obtain approval from law enforcement.

Someone who removes any portion of the meat or the head or antlers without permission could be charged with illegal possession of wildlife parts.

Call a local game warden or other law enforcement officer to ask about salvaging the animal. Also, many game wardens maintain lists of needy families who could use the meat.

Previously, Dawn McCaslin of Geico Insurance gave a few other deer statistics:

• Dawn and dusk are the times you are most likely to encounter deer along the roadside.

• Deer breeding season runs from October through early January, and during this time they are highly active.

• Though deer may wander into suburban neighborhoods, they are most frequently found on the outskirts of town and in heavily wooded areas.

• As pack animals, deer almost never travel alone. If you see one deer, you can bet that there are others nearby.

Here are some preventive techniques identified in the same article last year by McCaslin last year:

• The two most important ways to avoid deer-vehicle collision are: slow down and SLOW DOWN.

• If you are driving through an area known for high deer populations, slow down and observe the speed limit. The more conservative you are with your speed; the more time you will have to brake if an animal darts into your path.

• Always wear a seat belt. The most severe injuries in deer-vehicle collisions usually result from failure to use a seat belt.

• Watch for the shine of eyes along the roadside and immediately begin to slow.

• Use your high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will increase your visibility and give you more time to react.

• Deer can become mesmerized by steady, bright lights so if you see one frozen on the road, slow down and flash your lights.

Some experts recommend one long blast of the horn to scare them out of the road as well.

Be aware and buckle up.

Reach John Kilgore at [email protected].