By Woodrow Polston
Another autumn has arrived, and with it comes all of the perks that so many of us enjoy—crisp and colorful leaves, cooler air, a change of wardrobe (ugly sweaters included), and a chance to take a deep breath after the hustle and bustle of the busy summer months. It’s the time of year for chili, soups, pies, warm comfort drinks, and yes of course, pumpkin spice.
During October, there will be fall festivals, visits to the nearest pumpkin patch, hay rides and corn mazes, pumpkin carving and apple bobbing, all topped off with bundles and bags of candy, as trick or treaters ramble up and down their hometown streets.
It is also a celebrated and much anticipated time of year if you are a deer hunter. The Missouri archery season opened on Sept. 15, and it runs until the November firearms portion of the season. After rifle season, bow hunters may continue hunting through Jan. 15 of next year.
With the approach of the rut—deer breeding season—coupled with an increase of hunters becoming more active in the woods, the deer will be on the move more than most any other time of the year. A report from State Farm Insurance ranks Missouri 15th in the country for potential deer collisions with vehicles. As the days continue to grow shorter, drivers have an even greater chance of encountering deer crossing roads.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 3,639 traffic crashes involving deer in 2020, resulting in 348 injuries and five deaths. Most deer strikes occurred at dawn and dusk in October and November. According to The Missouri Department of Transportation, drivers should never swerve to avoid animals in the road because it can cause loss of control of their vehicles, resulting in serious injury or death. To avoid hitting a deer, always be cautious and keep your eyes scanning both sides of the roadway.
State Maintenance Director Natalie Roark said, “Distracted driving, particularly when wildlife is on the move, can be deadly.” She added that, “Always buckle up and put your phone down when driving.”
MoDOT recommends that if you can’t avoid a collision and it has resulted in the death of the deer, there are several options you can take: According to Missouri law, an individual who has struck and killed a deer with their vehicle may claim the deer carcass if written authorization to possess the deer is granted by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. The Wildlife Dispensation permit is free, but you need to contact the Missouri Department of Conservation to obtain the permit.
MoDOT advises drivers to be cautious that they do not put themselves or other drivers in danger when attempting to retrieve a deer that has been hit. If the driver is not interested in claiming the animal and if the deer is completely off the roadway, MoDOT will not pick it up unless it impedes mail delivery or is in a neighborhood, especially at or near a bus stop. If a deer is located on the shoulder, MoDOT will address the deer during normal work hours. MoDOT crews will not be called out after hours to remove a carcass, unless it is a safety hazard. MoDOT does not have specialized crews assigned to remove dead animals from the roadway and does not contract out any roadkill removal.