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The Law of Diminishing Run-ins

Published on: Sep. 14, 2009

Deer CollisionThis is the time of year when the frequency of deer-vehicle accidents begins to creep up. I was looking at accident statistics awhile back and noticed some interesting trends.

Back in 1991, there was a deer-vehicle collision on average every 2.6 hours. Over the next few years, that figure dropped steadily, peaking at 1.7 hours per accident in 1999. Deer-car accidents were happening with greater frequency every year.

Around the middle of this period, the Conservation Department responded by increasing deer-hunting season length and making more antlerless deer permits available. Between 1991 and 2007, the overall firearms hunting season length doubled, going from 18 to 36 days. And where you could only get one antlerless deer tag in 1991, in 2007 hunters could buy as many antlerless permits as they wanted for use in 81 of Missouri’s 114 counties. The number of does shot by hunters each year mirrored this trend, jumping from around 60,000 to 106,000. When it comes to controlling deer numbers, it’s the doe harvest that counts.

Guess what else happened during this period. The rate of deer-vehicle collisions went from one every 1.7 hours back to one every 2.6 hours, back down to the 1991 rate.

If you are deer hunter, give yourself a pat on the back for helping keep Missouri drivers safe!

By the way, the main reason the rate of deer-vehicle collisions goes up in the fall is deer behavior. Does and bucks grow more active during “the rut,” as their mating season is known. You can’t do anything about that, but you can drive defensively, especially at dawn and dusk. Watch for deer just off the road, and slow down when you spot one. Don’t let down your guard if the deer gets across the road ahead of you. Another could be following.

Have you ever hit a deer? More than one? Any tips to help the rest of us avoid collisions?

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