WOODS ‘N’ WATER: For deer life, please proceed with caution

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: For deer life, please proceed with caution


More often than not, you won’t see them coming as you travel our highways and country roads in the early morning and late evening hours — and sometimes even in the middle of the day.

I’m talking about the chances of a whitetail deer running out in front of your vehicle and causing a collision.

From reports I have seen and heard over the years, this can be an unnerving experience that can be expensive regarding vehicle damages, expensive regarding human injuries from the collision, and even deadly, resulting in the death of the vehicle operator and passengers.

Deer/vehicle collisions usually occur in the blink of an eye. You are on the road, it is dark when, suddenly, a blur of an object darts in front of your vehicle and all heck breaks loose.

You have jammed on the brakes and your vehicle swerves violently after the collision. There are all kinds of after-effects when the collision happens. Generally, especially here in Connecticut and some of our surrounding states, it will be a deer that you hit.

If you are “lucky” — if you can call a collision with a deer “lucky” — the animal will be flung to the roadside.

But it may also come crashing through your windshield and end up in the vehicle with you, depending on the severity of the impact.

Over the years, I have seen a number of deer/vehicle collisions and have even been involved in a couple myself. Fortunately, mine were just glancing blows to the critter off my vehicle and, luckily, I was not injured.

I would also assume that the deer was uninjured after watching it run away, but that is not always the case. Many times, the injured deer makes it to the safety of the woods only to go down and suffer before death takes over.

One case in particular comes to mind from when we had a piece of property in New York state and became friendly with New York State Trooper John Mullin, who hunted our land.

Over the years, we had seen a number of deer make it across the road our property abutted. Sometimes they did not.

John was hunting in one of our treestands and he kept seeing a bit of white like a deer tail showing up in the brush, but he could not make out what it was. After a time, Mullin got down out of the treestand and cautiously approached the area the flash of white appeared in.

He was surprised to see an eight-point buck deer lying on the ground! It was unable to get up and Mullin noticed that the deer was critically injured. It had been hit by a vehicle and made its way onto our property only to collapse. John mercifully put it out of its misery.

Upon turning the deer over, John said, the whole side of the rib cage appeared to be bashed in.

The deer was one of thousands of deer killed on New York highways yearly.

One has to wonder what the deer/vehicle collisions would be without a hunting season to keep their numbers in check.

Keep in mind the arrival of fall coincides with deer breeding season, and this makes the chances of having a deer run out in front of your vehicle even greater.

Over the years, I have seen bucks chasing female deer though the woods and they seemingly do this with only one thought in mind: Get the female! I have had does run right under my treestand with a buck in hot pursuit and it was like I was not even there!

My first sighting of a buck chasing a doe happened in my early years of hunting deer. I was so dumbfounded at what I saw, I never even tried to get a shot off. I just sat there and watched the chase.

Back then, I was a green as grass when it came to what to expect while deer hunting.

In later years, such a chase often ended up in my filling a deer tag. Just about any deer hunter would love to such a scenario as a buck chasing a doe in the area of their treestand.

Many drivers get excited at the sight of a deer crossing in front of their vehicle, not realizing that there might be more deer following them. A number of years ago, I was one of them.

I was hunting a piece of state land up in Kent. It was in the early morning and still dark as I drove by a farm.

I was enthralled listening to my favorite music station, Country 92.5, when a doe jumped out in front of my pickup truck! I jammed on the brakes and luckily never hit the deer, but as I sat there in shock, three more deer — two does and one buck — made the same crossing.

If I had not been stopped I would have surely had a collision with one of them.

Each year, deer/vehicle collisions make for millions of dollars in vehicle repairs. Not only that, but they result in over 200 deaths each year.

Besides the expense, IF you are lucky enough to come away unhurt, if you do not have the proper insurance, the cost of repairs to your vehicle will come out of your pocket.

When traveling roads where there are deer, keep in mind that they usually travel in herds. If you see one, there are usually more.

Be aware of deer crossing signs. They are not put there to help hunters. They are put there because deer use the area frequently.

Most deer activity happens between 6-9 p.m. Use your high-beams whenever possible at night and, if a collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lo lose control of your vehicle and put you off the road or into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch out for our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving our great country.