View Full Version : Driving and deer question...

Nov. 28, 2009, 09:45 PM
I recently began driving a route that takes me through what must be Whitetail Nation. They're everywhere, and it's a wooded, hilly area that makes their sudden appearance roadside even more unpleasant. What's the best way, short of driving 35mph with with one foot hovering over the brake, of avoiding these pretty but clearly suicidal animals?

Meredith Clark
Nov. 28, 2009, 09:47 PM
I've never used one of these but I've heard they work


for $6 it can't hurt!

Nov. 28, 2009, 10:06 PM
Whitetail Nation....lol!
Do you have a truck or a car?

Nov. 28, 2009, 10:23 PM
At night, watch for the reflection of headlights in their eyes ... and, remember, if you see one crossing the road up ahead, because there are likely going to be more crossing, following their leader (or mom)

Nov. 29, 2009, 12:12 AM
Whitetail Nation....lol!
Do you have a truck or a car?

Car. Not a tiny car, but still, not something that's going to simply slough a deer off without pause. Deer sightings make me kinda wish I drove a Hummer.

Mach Two
Nov. 29, 2009, 12:49 AM
I use a set of deer whistles on my touring vehicle (I'm a full time touring musician) and drive through lots of deer and antelope country...so far the whistles work, and they are really inexpensive, so when one gets broken washing the van, they are simple to replace....and, you can get used to spotting them.

Nov. 29, 2009, 12:50 AM
At night, watch for the reflection of headlights in their eyes ... and, remember, if you see one crossing the road up ahead, because there are likely going to be more crossing, following their leader (or mom)

Yep.....I was driving home from the barn last week (nighttime) when I saw a deer dart across the road up ahead. My mother always taught me this same advice....so I stopped and waited a few seconds....Out popped another, and another until 6 crossed total. I swear they were organized by size. :lol:

Nov. 29, 2009, 02:28 AM
If the road isn't super busy, I usually will drive down the center of the road rather than in my actual lane. Obviously not a good option if there is oncoming traffic however!

Nov. 29, 2009, 08:28 AM
If there's traffic, I usually try to tuck myself up behind another car/truck - and drive to their headlights - constantly scanning both sides of the road. If there's no other traffic, I'm afraid I do the 35 - 40 mph, foot hovering over the brake thing. I hit - or rather had a deer hit me - ONCE - and that was completely sufficient for me (the only living thing I've hit in 40 years of driving:()- I'll do whatever is necessary to avoid that again. If that means taking 30-45 minutes longer to get where I'm going, so be it. The damage a deer can do to a vehicle and/or the driver, never mind itself is just too horrific to take a chance on IMO.

I had a pair of those whistles once on a car I owned - and at least in Utah - they did absolutely zip - I didn't even notice the deer looking around when I passed them.

Nov. 29, 2009, 08:33 AM
Here in GA, there are more deer killed by cars on the road than shot by hunters, in fact, they are probably run over by those same drunk hunters.

I just drive slowly, watch for their eyes, but they still graze right by GA 21 in a congested area. It's the ones running from something that I worry about.

I've had to take a friend's horse over for surgery, our vet is almost in Charleston, in the middle of the night and driving a truck with trailer at 3am on US 17 is scary, as I was afraid of the deer but we made it. I want to try those warning devices, people here say they work.

War Admiral
Nov. 29, 2009, 09:26 AM
I'm going to try the whistle too, I think - thanks for the link! I'm back to doing the late-night drive home from the barn on a very unpopulated rural highway, so anything that might help is worth a try, esp. since it's THAT reasonably priced!

Nov. 29, 2009, 09:28 AM
Here in central NJ, there are as many deer as squirrels... The deer whistles really don't seem to help. The county has put reflectors along some roads which have been shown to discourage deer - they just make them more cautious - which is a good thing. Yes, when there's one, there's generally several, although bucks are usually solitary. I drive slow, with high beams at night. Ours are a concern 24/7 - I've stopped my car and lowered the window to yell "get out of the road - now - I mean it - please"...

Nov. 29, 2009, 10:01 AM
I drive 35. The road that takes me to my barn is windy and bordered by steep inclines on both sides, therefore by the time you see the deer they're usually already in the road.

Nov. 29, 2009, 10:13 AM
Watch for eye shine and LAY ON YOUR HORN. Really. Don't just give a little toot, really lay on it. If a deer runs in front of you, look BEHIND him, don't follow him with your eyes or the next in line may be your victim.

I have never hit a deer (knock on wood ;)) but I am serious about blowing the horn and it really does work.

pony grandma
Nov. 29, 2009, 11:44 AM
We have a back country road, that makes a nice short cut to our road from the big highway - BUT - the whole right hand side of the road that runs down in the bottom is all cow pastures (several different owners) and they all let the weed grow up in the barbed wire fenceline that is about one foot from the side of the road. The weed is thick and 6 ft+ high and fully blocks any view. It scares the bejeezus out of me! One full speed ahead running buck that takes a big high fly jump over that fenceline and smack you're IT! You just can't see them coming.

We have forbidden our children from using that road at this time of year. 5 minutes around the longer way might mean your life.

Nov. 29, 2009, 12:11 PM
How to not hit deer: slow down and be ready to hit brakes in the areas where you know they cross frequently, or where you can't see the ditches well. I am constantly, constantly scanning the ditches alongside the road for eyeshine. Stay off the cell phone, leave the radio on low volume-- you really do need to concentrate on this, or you'll see them too late.
That said, sometimes there's just no avoiding it-- I had a doe literally just run into the side of my car. Another time I was on interstate 80 and a deer was trapped in the median, looking back and forth. I was in the fast lane on a packed highway, we were all going about 80mph, and it was just a crapshoot which car she was going to jump in front of. Sure enough she bolted onto the interstate in front of me, and then froze. I had a good 100ft betw me and her and I braked hard and leaned on the horn. BUT, there was a 53' semi right behind me and he just couldn't slow down as quickly as I could. In my rearview mirror all I could see was the grill of this massive truck that was about to hit me. So, I had no choice: I floored the gas pedal and accelerated right through that poor deer. Car was totaled and I got some cuts and scrapes -- but if had swerved away, or continued to brake, there would have almost certainly been multiple human injuries or worse.

PS The deer whistles do NOT work, they've been studied and there is zero proof whatsoever that they're effective. The frequency they make is too high for deer to detect. Plus, as anyone who has honked their horn at a deer knows, their response to noise is unpredictable-- there's equal chance of them reacting by standing statue-still in your path, darting away from the road, or darting across the road--it just pretty much depends on where their buddies are.
There are lots of people who swear by the whistles, but it is purely coincidental. It's like saying I drive a red car and I've never been in a collision, therefore red cars must prevent collision.

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:37 PM
If the road isn't super busy, I usually will drive down the center of the road rather than in my actual lane. Obviously not a good option if there is oncoming traffic however!

When I used to work 2nd shift until 2:00 AM that is how I used to drive home from work..:yes:

Nobody on the roads at that time and I figured I could avoid any animal that popped out from either side of the road.

Nov. 29, 2009, 03:48 PM
We have some smart deer here too the ones who don't dart out into traffic. One herd down near Midway stops and stands at the side of 95 till there is a lull in traffic, then the cross the interstate. I guess the elders teach the young ones not to chance the traffic.

Closer to home, a smaller herd stands by the side of the road near the traffic light at Bethesda, and they wait till the light is red, then they cross about a block from the light. (n crosswalk on that road.)

I was at a barn where the deer would come bounding past the horses or across the trail right in front of us. We have gone from having not so many deer to having an over abundance of them, so that they are getting killed on the roadways every day around here.

Nov. 29, 2009, 05:10 PM
I've used deer whistles for years and years; never hit a deer, elk, or any little critter in all those years!!!!!! I could care less about statistics, they work for me and saved many an animal.

Nov. 30, 2009, 12:19 AM
They're thick here too and all the carcasses alongside the roads bug the H out of me - more deer getting pegged by cars than taken lawfully it seems. So, my method is watch for the eyeshine, where goes one there will be another, or two or three, once I get off the freeway it's 35 with the hovering foot and I come home at 1AM. They do tend to travel the same routes so I watch more in certain places. In daylight I try to rest my gaze on the most distant part of the road, generally the furthest curve, and let my peripheral vison alert me to motion - ears and tails. I don't lay on the horn but I have had to come to a complete stop, lower down my window and cuss the stragglers out. My road is pretty quiet, I also stop for the idiot squirrels.

Nov. 30, 2009, 12:33 AM
I've used deer whistles for years and years; never hit a deer, elk, or any little critter in all those years!!!!!! I could care less about statistics, they work for me and saved many an animal.

I've never used a deer whistle and I've also never hit a deer, though deer strikes are common in my neighborhood.

Our local public radio runs an advisory, "It's deer mating season, and deer are especially stupid this time of year, particularly the males..." :D

Frank B
Nov. 30, 2009, 09:46 AM
Sometimes it gets really, really bad... (http://www.jalopnik.com/cars/images/deer_crossing.jpg)

This time of year my Miata hibernates in the garage. I have no desire to get up close and personal with the underbelly of a Whitetail!

Nov. 30, 2009, 09:46 AM
Sometimes it gets really, really bad... (http://www.jalopnik.com/cars/images/deer_crossing.jpg)

:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol: - I'm going to forward that one!!

Nov. 30, 2009, 12:26 PM
I think the only way to be safe is to drive slowly. Last week, we were driving home about 6:30pm and I saw a deer in the middle of the road. We slowed down but the damn thing just turned and started trotting down the road in our lane right in front of us. It was a spike and there were a couple of does on the side of the road watching him head down the road. He finally made a decision and got off the road. I flashed my lights at on-coming cars to let them know something was up.

Nov. 30, 2009, 03:01 PM
Shotgun season opened here today and the deer are on the move. It a suburban area so we have a huge deer population. Beyond the state forest, it's by landowner permission only and there aren't many landowners with enough land to allow hunters to hunt safely. The result is an enormous deer population and a huge problem with deer being hit along the road. I have never used the deer whistle, but it sounds like a good idea.

I hit a deer in 1997 when some hunters flushed it out of the woods onto the hood of my car. It just happens so fast that you simply don't have time to react.

I have learned that they are usually in 2s or 3s so if I see one ahead, I slow down and watch for others.

Another thing I have found helpful is to watch for the glint of their eyes along the roadside at night. The headlights of the car will reflect in their eye but you have to be scanning the roadside as you drive to see it.

Good luck.

Drive NJ
Nov. 30, 2009, 03:18 PM
Actually, the problem is more often rutting season and the time of day we are driving vs the light rather than hunting that is causing the problem.As days shorten we tend to be commuting during their movement time more which coincides with rutting season when the bucks are pretty much only concerned about scenting a doe and to heck with the road we are crossing.At least in NJ, deer acclimate to any deer aversion system pretty quickly and if the whistles ever worked they sure don't affect them now. Deer are in our yards (and no I don't think the prooblem is us taking over their habitat, but creating perfect habitat for deer - deer LOVE suburban development where they are protected from hunting and plenty of tasty gardens and shrubs to eat. They pretty much ignore anything less than deer fence which farmers are being pushed towards because the anti-hunting lobby wants non-lethal management. Of course this means we are channeling the deer into pathways otherwise known as roads and road edges.

Nov. 30, 2009, 04:53 PM
These may be obvious:

In addition to using high beams whenever possible, make sure they are adjusted properly, the ditch-side light should actually be lighting up a significant portion of the ditch.

If you have to clean your windshield clean your headlights too.

Clean the inside of your windshield regularly.

Nov. 30, 2009, 04:58 PM
I learned to drive in the land of the elk and moose. You hit one of those, you're likely in big trouble. More so than hitting a deer. As such, the skills I was taught there have applied well to deer country and I've yet to (knock on wood) hit a deer though I drive through heavily deer infested areas daily.

I too am one who scans the ditches looking for reflections. If I'm on stretches of road that I do not know well--and by "know well" I mean "know where the deer cross"--I slow down. I keep my left foot hovering near the clutch and my right foot ready to hit the brake.

Like others have said...they travel in groups...so where you see one, slow the heck down and be ready for the rest of the crew!

Safe travels!

Frank B
Dec. 15, 2009, 09:31 AM
Speaking of deer... (http://www.joe-ks.com/archives_dec2009/RedneckSantaFloat.htm)

Ho! Ho! Ho!