At this time of year, there is a subject that always comes up in discussions, and more often than not, you can hear a personal experience story when such a discussion gets rolling.
If the title of this column doesn't give it away, I don't really know what will.
From the releases that we receive each week, 'tis the season for deer versus vehicles around the region. If I've kept a somewhat accurate count, there have been around a half-dozen deer vs. vehicle mishaps since the beginning of the month of November in the region. With the crops pretty well all harvested, it is also that time of the year, at least for deer, when a young buck's thoughts turn to romanceand much like other male counterparts, then tend to get a little "tunnel vision" when it comes to the affections of the female of the species.
That simple fact of biology lends itself to making this time of year a little more challenging on the roadways of the area.
Law enforcement officials offer us some general tips to remember, especially when the deer are extra mobile.
1. Buckle up, drive at safe speeds and pay attention - be especially cautious during dusk and dawn when deer are more active.
2. Don't veer for deer - swerving can cause motorists to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic. Bringing a vehicle to a controlled stop and hitting a deer is safer than swerving.
3. Don't count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads.
4. Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.
5. 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 forest land and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.
6. Deer do unpredictable things - they stop in the middle of the road when crossing, cross and quickly re-cross back and move toward an approaching vehicle. Blow your vehicle's horn to urge deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road; don't try to go around it.
And even though it feels a little cool for motorcyclists, there are still some good rules to remember at other times of the year for motorcyclists.
1. Avoid night and low-light riding periods (dusk and dawn) when deer are more active.
2. When encountering deer, use both brakes to stop. If riders cannot stop in time, swerve carefully and slowly around the deer if there is space.
3. If a collision cannot be avoided, keep head and eyes up to improve chances of keeping the bike up.
4. Wear protective gear, especially a DOT-approved helmet.
Officials also remind motorists that if a deer is struck but not killed by a vehicle, keep a distance as deer may recover and move on. If a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency. If it is safe for you to do so, remove the deer from the roadway.
As a general reminder, law enforcement officers across the state urge drivers to be keenly aware of the dangers deer can pose on the roadway.