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Rut puts deer on crash course

OUTDOORS -

November 02, 2008|By BILL ANDERSON

If you are a deer hunter, you already know this is one of the most important times of year.

The annual mating season, known as the rut, is underway and deer activity is at the highest point of the calendar year.

The rut's peak is actually triggered by seasonal changes in sunlight. The peak activity here is usually the first two weeks of November.

The beginning of the deer mating season has a lot of significance for hunters and nonhunters alike. This is the time to spend as much time as possible in the tree stand. You are likely to see the biggest buck in the area on the move at any time of the day.

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Another aspect of this increased deer activity directly affect drivers. Each year, drivers are alerted to increased deer activity, which means the possibility of more deer-car collisions.

At one time, warnings were directed to "deer country." Now, you don't have to be in the mountains to have a chance for an expensive encounter with a love-sick buck.

The auto insurance industry keeps plenty of statistics on deer collisions since they have cost them millions each year. The numbers have increased at a staggering rate over the last decade.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions have occured annually in the United States, causing more than 150 fatalities and $1.1 billion in property damage.

With deer populations rising in most states, the numbers are likely to increase. In fact, the number of incidents nationwide has doubled from 1993 through 2006.

· According to the insurance institute, 10 states - Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, West Virginia and South Carolina - accounted for more than 50 percent of all reported collisions the past three years. More collisions occur from October to December than in the other nine months combined.

· News releases always include a number of tips for drivers. They include staying alert and wearing seat belts. This is mostly common sense stuff, but one tip that is worth sharing is if you see deer crossing the road ahead of you, be really alert for more following. Deer have a habit of delaying at the edge of the road, before making a late dash to catch up with the leaders. This has saved me a lot of grief.

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