Why did the deer cross the road?
Well, depending on the time of year, it could be for one of several reasons.
Every day, deer travel from their bedding to feeding areas. Deer prefer different food sources that mature at different times of year including wild plants, berries, fruit and nut bearing trees. They also move into areas of recent harvest to eat tender crops left behind. Many times this movement necessitates that they cross a roadway, and in areas like St. Louis County where many communities are spread out over a wide area, yet still offer pockets of suitable habitat, this is especially prominent.
Deer-vehicle collisions are highest between October and December. This is due to the mating season for deer which peaks in November, so that their fawns can be born in spring - giving their young the best chance of survival.
An insight to deer courtship shows that females play hard to get. A female deer will make the buck chase her for miles, if not days, to help ensure survival of the fittest for her offspring. Many times when you see a deer this time of year run flat out across the road with total disregard for traffic; it is either a doe being pursued or a buck pursuing. If you see a doe run across in front of you as fast as she can, expect that a buck is somewhere behind her. Maybe RIGHT behind her or several hundred yards behind her. Also, keep in mind that more than one buck may be following the same doe.
Deer are typically very cautious, unless they are young, old, sick or pre-occupied. Having grown up around roads, they do actually tend to look both ways before crossing.
Next year, in the late spring and summer, we need to be aware of fawns following their mothers across the road. Keep in mind that the mother chooses the time to cross the road and the fawns either make it or they don't.
Always be aware of your surroundings and think about the bigger scene that is unfolding around you.
At Dowco, we believe that if we have an understanding of why the deer crossed the road, then hopefully we can avoid an accident.