By Bryan Gallegos
I was driving home one night last week and noticed a dead deer on the side of the road just south of Killdeer. It was a sad sight.
Twice in my lifetime I’ve had the misfortunate to his one of Bambi’s kind. The first happened when I just turned 16 and I had my license for about three days.
I was driving home from a Babe Ruth baseball game. I hit my first home run that night, but that wouldn’t be the only first for me that night. It was about 10 p.m., and I was feeling pretty darn good. Out of the dark, a deer jumped in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and swerved, but it was too late.
Another time, I was working in Colorado. I was traveling about 15 miles per hour on a road that meandered through some hilly terrain. A deer leaped off the side of a hill and tried to jump over my vehicle. The deer landed on the hood of my pickup, did a summersault off the vehicle and landed on his feet. He scampered away, looking back with a “Where did you get your license” kind of look.
So when I saw that carcass the other night, it made me sad.
But motorist need to realize that Bambi and company are out there. Motorists are reminded to watch for deer along the roadways this time of the year. Juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.
We are in the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer along the road. Most of the accidents with wildlife along the roadway happen at dawn and dusk. That is when deer are most often moving around.
According to reports, motorists should be aware of warning signs that signal deer are in the area. When you see on deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posed with Deer Crossing Area cautions signs.
Sometimes, however, deer-vehicle accidents are unavoidable. If this happens, and you are uninjured and you vehicle is the only property damage, you don’t have to call law enforcement. Deer-vehicle accidents that involve personal injury or other property damage must be reported.
A permit is required to take parts or the whole carcass of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement officers.
Here are some precautions to minimize chances of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle accident.
Always wear your seat belt.
Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a der. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the road. Don’t lose control of your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer. You risk less injury by hitting the deer.
If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn.
And don’t be distracted by reliving your first home run while you are driving home from a baseball game.