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Deer season begins

October 8, 2011
Kevin Williams, Grundy County Conservation Director

Nothing runs like a Deere. Now, in an effort to avoid criticism for endorsing one tractor manufacturer over another, let me just say that a certain well-known maker of green tractors and lawnmowers uses that phrase in the marketing of their equipment. They also use "It's Deere Season" in the marketing of their line, as well.

Both of these phrases are appropriate for the column in that the first couple of deer hunting seasons have begun in Iowa. The youth deer hunting season is underway and the bow hunting deer season started October 1. The bow hunting season has been a topic in previous news articles written by yours truly and I can assure you that with my passion for the sport, it will be again. The third season for deer right now though is the car/deer season.

"Nothing runs like a deer" phrase is appropriate here when talking about the car/deer. As harvest begins in earnest, the chances of deer being hit by vehicles (and vehicles being hit by deer) greatly increases. It reaches its peak in the early part of November when the breeding season called rut occurs.

As the activity in the fields changes from minimal disturbance like water ways being mowed to extreme when the tractors, wagons, combines, and semi-trucks enter and quickly clear the mini-forest of corn they have called home, the deer find themselves on the move. The result is more "interaction" with vehicles on the roadways.

The best we as motorists can do at this time is to increase our awareness. My father-in-law always believed you could drive defensively enough to avoid a deer accident. That is, however, until we hit a deer while traveling to celebrate birthdays at a local restaurant several years ago. It came out of nowhere. In fact, we didn't even know what it was that was hit until the accident was over. You can't cut your chances of hitting a deer to zero during this time unless you just plain hang up the keys and stop driving entirely. But you can do some things and be aware of some things to help.

When you are driving this fall, slow down: especially when driving at night. Deer are extremely difficult to see at night. If driving too fast, there will not be time to slow the car down once a deer is spotted.

Because deer are so difficult to see at night, train your eyes to look for things that don't necessarily match the definition of a deer shape in your mind. The eyes of a deer will reflect light from your car's headlights so be aware of those reflections farther up ahead.

Most deer that are hit in a car/deer collision are running across the road. It is rare that a deer will be just standing in the middle of the road directly in front of a vehicle's headlights although it does happen. There is no feed or shelter on a paved road. They will typically be moving from one side over to the other. While driving scan the sides of the road for movement. I know that my vehicle has been designed to throw so much more light off to the sides of the roadway than earlier models for just this safety reason.

I know none of these "tips" are rocket science and really just common sense things but I hope they help during deer season.



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