Given the time of the year and the fact that I just traded for a much nicer pickup, I can’t help but think about deer/vehicle collisions. We’re fast approaching the annual breeding season for whitetail deer known as “the rut,” which is more important to many hardcore deer hunters than their anniversary. During this time, bucks throw caution to the wind in their quest for love.
There are two schools of thought to explain the timing of the annual rut. One is that the timing of the rut is controlled by the photoperiod, or the length of days. It’s a proven fact that as the days grow shorter, the decreased amount of sunlight triggers certain hormones in deer, leading the does into estrus. According to this theory, most rutting activity occurs during the latter half of October and the first half of November, and varies very little from year to year.
The other side of the isle attributes the timing of the rut to the phase of the moon. In “deerhunterspeak,” the second full moon after the autumn equinox is known as the “rutting moon” and is thought to be the peak of the rut. Under this theory, the peak of the rut changes from year to year, falling on October 27 this year, and the most serious rutting activity is forecast to take place from October 25th – November 3.
We in Kansas are blessed with marvelous whitetail deer hunting. The flip side of that is the number of deer related accidents that comes along with a healthy deer population. Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) records show 9,607 deer related accidents in 2014 alone. Ascribing to the theory that the most deer related accidents occur where there is the most vehicle traffic, Sedgwick County tops the list with 422.
You all read the same advice about this time each year, like being especially careful when driving along wooded areas at dusk and dawn, and where there is one deer, there are probably more. But the worst deer related accidents often occur after a driver has struck a deer or when a driver swerves in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer. If you hit a deer with your vehicle and the deer is lying on the roadway, DO NOT attempt to remove the deer from the road yourself. Stay in your vehicle, turn on your emergency flashers, call 911 and wait for a law enforcement officer to arrive. If a deer darts in front of your vehicle, DO NOT swerve to miss the deer. Swerving at highway speed can result in rolling your vehicle, or at very least, finding yourself in the other lane facing oncoming traffic.
I hope you all harvest a Kansas deer this season, but not with your vehicle. There are so many different deer seasons here in Kansas that there is no excuse not to buy a deer permit and fill your freezer with nutritious, grain-fed Kansas venison. Getting one that way is a lot easier on your vehicle and I think you’ll find the meat to be in a lot better shape too. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]