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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Oh deer, watch out

  • Steve Gregg of Shawnee knows all to well what can happen when a vehicle collides with a deer.
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  • Steve Gregg of Shawnee knows all to well what can happen when a vehicle collides with a deer.
    Gregg was driving east of SH 18 on Moccasin Trail Road with his teenage daughter as his passenger when he topped a hill to see a doe standing in the middle of the roadway.
    "I know you're not supposed to weave," he said, but Gregg said he tried to ease right just as the deer did, then left, but his SUV ultimately struck that doe.
    "We slid sideways on the road," he said, adding it was early morning and still dark at the time of the accident. The impact bumped the startled and likely injured doe off the road before it trotted off into the woods.
    Luckily, Gregg and his daughter weren't injured, he said, and there wasn't much damage to his vehicle.
    But the scary experience was definitely an eye-opener and Gregg said he's especially cautious now in watching for deer while driving.
    He said if the speed limit on a road is 50 to 55 mph, he suggests drivers slow down to 35 to 40 mph to have more time to react should they encounter a deer.
    Deer can cross a roadway just about at any time of day or night, but are usually more prevalent at night, especially at dusk and dawn.
    Drivers should especially pay more attention in deer crossing areas, along with areas near creeks and low-lying areas, according to game wardens. Deer are typically more active during both the hunting and mating season, which are ongoing right now.
    Micah Holmes, who is the information and education supervisor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said because deer are on the move in preparation of the deer rut, bucks are chasing does and there's a lot of movement, so deer can create dangerous situations for motorists.
    "Be aware of your surroundings," Holmes said, adding drivers should watch for deer at any time.
    If a driver sees a deer, Holmes said there's more likely going to be another, or even two or three more deer as they often move in groups.
    While some drivers may try to avoid hitting a deer, if faced with swerving or hitting the deer, Holmes said many drivers who swerve to miss a deer often end up in other lanes of traffic, in a ditch or even hitting telephone poles, which can be worse.
    Holmes, who said drivers may sometime encounter deer standing still in the roadway, said headlights often blind them. Some say honking a car horn can help get the deer to move, he said, but awareness is the key.
    "We try to stress staying safe," he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - If a vehicle collides with a deer, games wardens say drivers need to make sure they're not hurt, turn on the vehicle's hazard flashers and get off the roadway.
    If there are injuries or property damage other than a vehicle, such as fence, a state trooper will need to take a report. Holmes also said some drivers might want an accident report for insurance purposes.
    Holmes said the number of deer in the state this year is about normal, but he said it's a good year for deer, which are healthy with all the food and plentiful water from recent rains.
    So far for the 2013 deer season, which has included archery and muzzleloader season, there have been 24,000 deer harvested so far, Holmes said.
    The upcoming deer gun season begins later this month. Holmes said in a typical year, about 100,000 deer are harvested.
    Hundreds of crashes occur each year involving deer. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, 141 people were injured and two were killed in accidents involving deer in 2011. Those numbers only reflect serious accidents or injuries, but there's countless other non-injury accidents involving deer each year.
    Since 2005, there's been an average of two fatalities each year from deer-related accidents, with the exception of 2009, when six fatalities were reported.
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