Usually we don’t bring this up for another month or so, until the rutting begins, but the Harvest Moon is waning and the motorcycle hunting season appears to be off to an early start. At least that’s what the deer call it.
Last Saturday near Archer, Iowa Michael Otten of Hurley, South Dakota struck a deer on county road B40, dropped his bike, slid down the road and earned a free ambulance ride to Baum Harmon Mercy Hospital in Primghar, Iowa. His bike sustained an estimated $3,500 in damages.
Later that night, near Raymond, Washington, Leland Tarver and his passenger Karen Spurgeon tried to avoid a deer that jumped into the road. They crossed the centerline and crashed down an embankment. Both were hospitalized.
The next morning about seven local time near Abercrombie, North Dakota, Kevin Bernier tried to avoid a deer, lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. He took an ambulance to a hospital in Fargo.
More Bad News
About noon last Sunday, Timothy Dobson tried to avoid a deer on Highway 97 in Klamath County, Oregon. He swerved left, hit the deer near the centerline, dropped the bike and slid into the weeds where the bike rolled at least twice. Dobson was airlifted to the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend where his condition is listed as fair.
Two hours later near Poygan in Northern Wisconsin, a motorcycle carrying two people hit a deer. The rider survived. The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
Early Sunday evening, Micah Russell of Medford, Oregon hit a fawn on Highway 42 and crashed. Police accuse him of drinking. He was treated for serious injuries at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg.
Two days ago on Route 395 in California, south of Carson City, Moises Cornejo hit a deer that leapt into the road. He dropped the bike and was seriously injured.
Our Annual Message
Two percent of automobile-deer collisions result in human injuries. Seventy-five percent of motorcycle-deer collisions result in injuries. Ten thousand people are hurt in deer collisions annually.
The peak months for deer collisions are October and November, as the days grow short, during rutting season, during what is hunting season in most of the country, around the time the wild berries have all fermented. Picture drunken, horny deer panicked by hunters in the gloaming. Half of all deer collisions happen in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Indiana and South Carolina.
Nag, Nag, Nag
Don’t bother to honk. Deer whistles and loud pipes won’t protect you. Deer have evolved to avoid wolves, not motorcycles.
Deer react when you invade their fight or flight space which encompasses a radius of about 60 feet. When deer react, they usually jump straight ahead then zig and zag. Don’t try to predict what the deer will do. Forget what they told you at the advanced rider training course. Never swerve. Slow down in deer country. Look for deer in the tree line. Don’t try to beat a deer to a spot. At 65 miles per hour you are going 100 feet per second so if you are lucky you will have about a half second to react. Your best chance of survival is to hit both brakes hard and go straight. If you have the time and the presence of mind to down shift do that, too. If you are very good aim for the ribs. Rib bones are more flexible than hip bones and will absorb the impact better than the hips.
As always, remember that if you do hit a deer you get to eat it. Whether you have a hunting license or not it is a legal kill. The meat, the antlers and the skin are yours.
Be careful. Practice braking. If the worst happens enjoy your venison. Stay alive so you can come back next year and read a slightly different version of this story then.