It’s the time of year where you are more likely to encounter a deer out on Iowa’s roadways.
DNR’s wildlife research biologist, Jim Coffey, says the earlier sunsets are a trigger for deer. “Deer are generally moved by photo period or the timing of the sun change. And the peak of our deer rut is going to be the first or second week of November. But we see it starting to ramp up in the end of October,” Coffey says, “so we really want to make drivers aware for about the next three or four weeks there’ll be a lot more deer activity.”
Coffey says the old saying that when you see one deer there’s usually another isn’t a myth — it’s biological. “The bucks are attracted to does by scent. And so, they are constantly scanning the air, smelling for that hormone,” Coffey says. ” In many cases when that doe comes into heat, that buck will be right behind her,” he says. He says the chase often leads deer across a roadway without warning and that’s why you have to be alert.
The corn harvest is ahead of normal this year — which also impacts deer movement. “Deer look at corn as habitat while it is standing. It provides a lot of cover and escape places for them. And as they come out they kind of have to readjust their world to where it is now that they are going to be at. So, as those combines and farm machinery are moving, it’s pushing deer and moving deer into new spaces,” according to Coffee.
He says the deer will move into wooded areas and waterways to seek refuge as the corn comes down. Daylight savings time is coming up which will be another adjustment for drivers and for deer. “So now we are kind of getting the big three. We’ve got the crops coming out — so the deer are a little skittish and finding a new place — the time is changing and we are driving at that bad time of the day,” He says. “So, it’s just a good time of the year to be aware as a driver that there could be more deer on the move.”
Coffee says dawn and dusk are the most active times for deer, and the best way to avoid a collision is to be more cautious at those times. “I personally slow down about five miles an hour when I am driving this time of year. I am constantly scanning — I say from ditch to ditch and fence to fence looking for movement that might may not normally be there,” Coffee explains. “And then really also understand your other drivers — back off and give them a little more space — so that if they do decide to break quickly that you are not right behind them as well.”
Coffee says the “Don’t Veer for Deer” slogan is still important as you can create more problems by trying to swerve around a deer instead of hitting it.