It’s Time, Michiganders, to Play the ‘Dodge Deer With Your Vehicle’ Game
Every year, Michiganders are forced to play the reality game "Dodge the Deer With Your Vehicle" which can be costly if you lose a round.
What is Up With the Deer in October and November?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words but my guess is you have only one word for the picture above, but it does explain all the extra activity from Michigan's whitetail deer herd in October and November and sometimes early December.
There is a lot going on in the deer community that I will try and unpack for you so you understand why all these deer are shooting out of cornfields, woods, swamps, and even near towns 24/7 for a few months in the Mitten.
What Has Michigan's Deer Herd on the Move More Than Usual in the Fall?
1) Sparring Phase
It is breeding season for Michigan's whitetail deer herd and the archery hunters know all about this because they are usually in the woods during this entire event that takes place. There is a term used for what the male deer goes through during this time called "The Rut." It kicks off with male deer doing some sparring where they clink their horns together in a more playful way like a boxer would train for an upcoming match. They start off early lightly tapping with young deer learning about this for the first time all the way to older deer. This sparring event has the males moving more than usual and you will see them crossing roads more and being in open areas more. This will elevate to full-on matches that we will revisit later in the article.
2) Seeking Phase
Bucks are on the move determining their territories while seeking bucks to push them out of the area, and at the same time, they are seeking for potential mates for the upcoming breeding season. This will lead to a buck chasing another buck across a road and pushing does across roads so when driving, when you see one this time of year, there is probably more so slow down and be ready.
3) Chasing Phase
This is the portion of the rut (or breeding season) where the male deer are chasing around the female deer they think might be ready to breed and usually, at this time in late October/early November the females are not. This leads to a lot of does crossing roads with bucks on their tails. Like in basketball or football, I think some female deer (does) actually have learned to use roads and automobiles to set up a pick. The doe runs across the road and beats the automobile then the buck runs out and boom, you just hit a deer. There could be other does behind her that could run out too. If you see a deer come to the road edge and look back behind her, something is back there and will more than likely pop out.
4) Breeding Phase
This is probably when most deer get hit by vehicles in Michigan and that is when female deer come into what is called estrus and the males know which ones by their scent are ready to breed. This starts in the early weeks to mid-November and last about 30 days and sometimes goes a week or two into December. This is when the bucks are moving 24 hours a day looking to breed any doe they can find. This is why people start hitting big deer during the day, at night, and even near cities and towns. If there is a patch of woods, a field, food, or water nearby then there are deer present in Michigan. The bucks are relentless during this time and on the move so 24 hours a day you are playing the "Dodge the Deer With Your Vehicle" game with your automobile. Watch out for the picks, drive safely, stay on the lookout, and tell others too, especially young drivers in your household. I drive a long distance all the time and I can tell you the movement has already begun.
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Gallery Credit: Gary McCoy
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