Rut Reporter David Draper grew up hunting deer and small game throughout this region and presently lives on a family farm in Nebraska. Draper, former communications specialist for Cabela’s and an authority on the Great Plains, subsists on a diet of duck breast and venison. States covered: ND, SD, NE and KS.
Nov. 22:** While we tout the positive benefits of the rut, most notably the chance to encounter that deer of a lifetime, you don’t often read about the other side of the coin. Across the country, November also sees a peak in the number of deer-vehicle collisions due to increased deer activity associated with the rut.
For the past ten waterfowl seasons, I’ve been making the 70-mile drive to the river up to 20 times per year, always in the pre-dawn hours. In those hundreds of trips, I’ve yet to encounter a deer on the highway, until this past weekend. Saturday morning, about 5:15 a.m., I caught sight of a doe mule deer crossing the highway at the outer limits of my headlights. Before I could even tap the brakes, a fork-horn buck appeared in front of me. The expletive wasn’t even out of my mouth before my F150 smashed into him, killing the young buck near instantly.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are more than 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. annually. In the state of Kentucky alone, nearly 47% of these collisions occur in the months of October, November and December, with November totals near twice that of October, the next nearest month. Of those, 53% happened between 5-8 a.m. or p.m., prime times for deer activity. In my home state of Nebraska, the rate of deer-vehicle collisions increased 54% between the years of 2007-2009.
I’m not happy about adding to those statistics, particularly as it’s the heart of hunting season and my truck is basically out of commission indefinitely. I guess that’s what I get for going goose hunting during deer season. While I’m sorry for the buck, I can surmise he didn’t even know what hit him, as intently as he was following that hot doe. So, on your drive to the duck blind, or wherever your early-morning road trips take you, keep an eye out for deer on the road. Take it from me, it’s an expensive way to punch your deer tag.