It's Deer Season!


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It's Deer Season!

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:24 pm



No, not THAT deer season. I'm talking about the season in the fall, when dusk comes earlier, and the deer come out onto the roads in droves.

Let's look at some dire statistics, from 2009 - and this is just the state of Michigan:

- 61,486 reported vehicle-deer crashes
- 10 fatalities - all of which were motorcycle riders

Some other, more general statistics:

- 1.5 million vehicle-deer crashes per year in the US
- 74% of motorcycle-deer crashes involve injury
- 70% of fatal vehicle-deer crashes are motorcyclists
- Deer are the third most struck object, behind another vehicle (#1) and a fixed object (#2).
- 90% of vehicle-deer crashes happen on two-lane roads, between dusk and dawn.

The top 10 states with the most deer collisions:

10. Wisconsin
9. Texas
8. Indiana
7. Virginia
6. Minnesota
5. Georgia
4. Ohio
3. Illinois
2. Michigan
1. Pennsylvania

In the past three days, I have had deer suddenly appear in front of me, crossing the road, three times. All three were at dusk, and were they hard to see!

How can you protect yourself against collisions with deer?

Before Riding

- Practice! Go out onto a safe, open space and try your braking and swerving techniques. If you don't practices until they are second nature, you will NOT be able to do it when those skills are suddenly called upon in an emergency! Practice braking HARD, then release the brakes and swerve.

- Make sure you have good lights. Inexpensive LED driving lights can light up the road ahead and help you see deer long before it becomes an emergency.

- Wear protective gear. I know, I hear you sighing already, I am always harping on this, but quality armored gear, gloves, boots and a helmet will go a long way to protecting you against the initial impact of a deer and the subsequent slide down the asphalt.

While Riding

- Slow down. Particularly on back roads, and when approaching curves or hills which you can't see around. Expect there to be deer in the middle of the road after every curve. The slower you go, the more reaction time you have, and if a collision is inevitable, the less energy you have to dissipate.

- When you are approaching a curve or blind area where deer might be, cover your brakes to reduce your reaction time.

- Use your high beam. If you have driving lights, use those too. Slow down, don't outdrive your headlights.

- If you're riding in a group, spread out. If one rider has the misfortune of hitting a deer, there's no reason to turn it into a multi-rider pileup.

What To Look For

Unfortunately, deer have excellent natural camouflage, and at dusk they are nearly invisible.

- If you see what appears to be a reflector on the side of the road, but it moves or winks, it could be a deer's eyes - use caution.

- If you see oncoming headlights, and the headlights "twinkle" - it could be the legs of deer on the road crossing in between you and the oncoming vehicle.

- Use your peripheral vision to scan for movement. Your peripheral vision is not only more sensitive to movement, it has better night vision. If you see something move in your peripheral vision, but see nothing at all when you look straight at it, trust your peripheral vision.

- Don't disregard "caution - deer" and "deer crossing" signs - they're there for a reason! Those signs are put up wherever there are a high number of vehicle-deer collisions.

- Be very careful where roads have low hanging branches close to the roadside.

Upon Encountering Deer

- Brake hard. Be ready to stop if necessary.

- Flash your headlight and sound your horn in a loud continuous blast, to try to wake them from the "daze" that happens when they see headlights.

- Assume there will be more. Deer travel together, in single file, but apart - so if you see one running across the road, there's a very good chance that another one will be a few seconds behind it.

- For cars, the advice is to swerve to miss deer. If you can maintain control of your bike, and if the swerve gives you a good chance of missing the deer, then do so. If there is no way out of hitting the deer, you are far better to hit it straight on, still braking as hard as you can. Maintain control if at all possible.

- If at all possible, avoid riding in rural areas at dawn and dusk this time of year.

- Deer react primarily to proximity, rather than to sight or sound. They will typically show zero interest in you until you get within sixty feet or so, and at that point they will spring into action, running a crazy zig-zag evasion route. When they do make their initial jump into action, it is in the direction they are facing at the time, so don't expect them to necessarily jump away from you - they may very well jump right in front of you! They are extremely unpredictable!

- Don't speed up to try to avoid impact. Your chances are no greater than if you slow down, and if you do impact a deer, the higher speed pretty much guarantees a much more severe injury.


If you have any suggestions, personal experiences, ideas, please speak up!


The following two videos may be disturbing, but show the difference between deer impacts with and without gear. The first video, the rider is wearing protective gear, and while shaken up, he is OK. In the second video, the rider is wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He does not fare as well. There is some profane language in these videos, so be forewarned.

With gear:




Without Gear:





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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby FM-USA » Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:01 pm

A short prose to keep you reminded of Deer dangers.

Fear few Dear, crossing from field to field.
Hiding Dear BOLT, from brush to brush.


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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby RoadRogue » Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:13 pm

Sadly I do have something to say about hitting deer while riding. I have hit two in two years.
Deer are completely unpredictable . The first one I hit was right a dusk, she was crossing the highway heading for the lake to get a drink. This is a good point to keep in mind they seem to travel toward or away from water in the evening. This one was just standing in the middle of the road. By the time I saw it and my brain figured out what I was looking at there wasn't enough time to come to a complete stop so I steered to pass behind the deer. I gave her lots of room, a little more than a lane width. All was fine until I got to within about 60 feet , she turned around and made a very graceful leap right into the path of my bike. My front wheel hit her solidly just aft of the rib cage. I was traveling somewhere around 40km/hr at the time of impact, this was a lot better than the 120 km/hr I was doing when I saw her.
Do not trust that a deer will run away from you, I gambled on that and lost.
I was thrown to the pavement and landed on my left shoulder and side of my head. I wear a heavy leather jacket and chaps, gloves and boots and at the time a 3/4 helmet. My helmet did its job and saved my melon from damage. The jacket prevented any road rash to my left side . Only damage was slightly bent Forks and a few cracks to the fairing. I received a broken collar bone and a small bruise on my thigh from who knows what.
After being checked out by the EMTs and received an accident report from the police on the scene I rode the bike home in the dark, a little slower than before and favouring the broken collar bone. The next day I went to the Hospital for some imaging and to have the bone set.

The second deer strike took out the entire front left side of my 1500, I hit it at 80km/hr broken plastic everywhere, damaged rad but I didn't drop the bike and only minor bruising to both my passenger and my left leg. This collision occured right around the same time, an hour or so before dark. This deer was running flat out across the road like something was chasing it. I didn't even see it until just before the impact.
Do not trust deer to behave in anything resembling a predictable manner. They are skittish and suicidal and they want to take you with them. They always travel in groups with the younger ones bringing up the rear. Deer are stupid even if they do taste good. Don't trust that the car or truck in front of you will"plow the road" for you, deer will just jump out anytime and while it's just an annoyance when you hit one with a cage it is another thing when on a bike. Early evening and early morning the deer are on the move. Watch for the deer crossing signs watch for rivers or lakes these are the places they are known to cross. 8-)
Ride safe, Todd
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby themainviking » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:19 am

I can attest to the fact that Michigan's "deer season" lasts most of the year. I have had deer come out on the interstate highways early in the morning in May. Take nothing for granted in the Big Forest State. This was south of St Ignace. WingAdmin is correct that they are really hard to see. All I noticed the time being described was four sticks at the range of my headlight. I slowed right down and it was two deer, facing me. I saw their front legs. Their bodies blended into the background, but their legs showed against the road surface. I never saw eyes till I was just about stopped.
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby keithg64 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:58 pm

I agree to all that was said above. I to hit a deer about 10 years ago on my 1100. Brakes and knowing what will happen when you hit them hard is huge.
How do you guys feel about deer whistles?
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:58 pm

keithg64 wrote:I agree to all that was said above. I to hit a deer about 10 years ago on my 1100. Brakes and knowing what will happen when you hit them hard is huge.
How do you guys feel about deer whistles?


From all the studies that have been done that I've read, deer whistles do nothing except give a false sense of security to the rider, and line the pockets of the manufacturer. The deer completely ignore them.

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby RoadRogue » Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:18 am

Deer whistles are just plain snake oil. They don't work at all. You would do better just aiming the front wheel at the deer.
Ride safe, Todd
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby detdrbuzzard » Mon Oct 31, 2016 4:10 am

living Detroit I was amazed that deer were on the outskirt of the city. coming home a few years ago I almost hit a deer just east of redford, mi. and a few weeks later I stopped for a group of five deer pretty close to the same area, I put the wing in hibernation after that encounter. my friend marvin lives in southfield and has seen deer on his front lawn. I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the inner city, with all the vacant land and empty homes they have a safe haven
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:35 am

detdrbuzzard wrote:living Detroit I was amazed that deer were on the outskirt of the city. coming home a few years ago I almost hit a deer just east of redford, mi. and a few weeks later I stopped for a group of five deer pretty close to the same area, I put the wing in hibernation after that encounter. my friend marvin lives in southfield and has seen deer on his front lawn. I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the inner city, with all the vacant land and empty homes they have a safe haven


Being the #2 state for deer, it's not surprising you see them in Michigan. Here in Ohio we are #4, and I regularly see them walking across my backyard - and I live in a suburban city. In fact I see depressions in the grass and snow in my back yard where they sleep, and they tear bark off my trees in winter when they get hungry. It's a regular occurrence (i.e. daily) to see them walking around our neighborhood.

We went for a walk through the local Metroparks on the weekend and came across a doe and her fawn just standing there looking at us, not 15 feet away. They have no fear of us, but won't let you get closer than that to them.

Deer in Metroparks
Deer in Metroparks

Deer in Metroparks
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby keithg64 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:35 am

Also it's not a bad idea, at least when its dark to ride in the left or right third of the road. If someone has hit one during the night most of the carcase will be in the center third.
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby dummysales » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:19 am

I live in the Catskill Mountains of NY in Delaware County. I grew up in Steuben County. These two counties are the top two deer take counties in NYS. That's my background. I hit one deer. The setting was early morning, headed east to work, on a winding downhill section posted at 40 mph. Because of the depth of the gully and the tree heights, I rode through constantly changing sunlight/shadows. I wore sunglasses because of the glare. I give myself extra time to get to work and knew visibility challenged me on this stretch, so I slowed at the top of the run to 30 mph (this turns out to be key in survival). Think ahead!

In the middle of the run I left bright sunlight to enter deep shade. By the time I saw the deer her head was about 2' from my front tire and her feet were splayed as she tried to stop. I grabbed brakes and slammed gears. She managed to jump over my front fender, but clipped it. The bike started the left/right wobble thing and because I rode slow enough I managed to do the right/left foot on the ground stabilizing pattern until the bike straightened up. Didn't know I could dance that fast. She disappeared and I gingerly rode the bike down the 800 feet or so out of the twisties to get to a safe place to pull off the road. I rode that distance without any obvious damage to the bike, but I needed to check it anyway. Found out the only damage occurred to the front fender where she ripped off the Goldwing logo from the fender. The bike has operated fine ever since (5 years ago).

Here's what I've learned about deer:
1) they are creatures of rhythm. Think of what they hear and experience day to day. Squirrels, turkeys, etc move in short bursts then halt. (Hunter tip!)
2) they hear you coming. They listen to your rhythm. When you change your rhythm (i.e., decrease throttle or hit the breaks) is when they bolt. (Hunters often never know they walk right past a deer because the deer won't bolt unless you stop).
3) if they are already running, you don't stand much chance of avoiding them. They run from predators (mostly dogs in NY).
4) bucks are stupid, especially during the rut. If you see a doe cross the road during "deer season" expect to find a buck being stupid behind her.

You can avoid hitting deer standing along side the road by NOT slowing down. Try this first with deer out in the meadow away from the road. They've heard you coming for the last mile, at least. Road noise and engine noise assure this. So, when you see them out in the field, notice their ears, tail and head movements. Most will flick their tail, wiggle their ears and occasionally bring their head up to view the surroundings. They are not running. Now slow down and watch their reaction. There head pops up, their tail goes jerky and their ears focus on YOU. Depending on how far out in the field they are, they may not run at this point, but you've seen the change in their behavior caused by your change in momentum/rhythm. The more you experience this the closer to the road the deer can be for you to continue the experiment. I've done it enough to know if they are feeding and not in the herky/jerky mode of alertness, I can pass by them without them jumping into me. The deer I hit was already moving out of shadows where I couldn't see her.

One other thing. I'm a Christian and believe God gave us dominion over all the creatures, so I take it. I speak to them. "Stay where you are!" "Go back into the field!" Take it for what it's worth to you.

And, of course, in all matters related to hitting things on the road, if you drive fast enough they don't have time to jump in front of you, NOT!" Be safe out there, and God bless.

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby hap2 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:48 am

Don't those deer whistles work?

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby dummysales » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:49 am


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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby Mh434 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:38 pm

I can personally attest to the hazards of deer on roads, particularly in deer vs. motorcycle collisions. I was in one myself, in 2006. Despite the low speed of the crash (30 mph), I received many injuries. I had over 30 bones broken, a concussion, inner ear damage, 7 dislocated fingers, and a permanently-ruined left shoulder joint. Had I not been wearing a high-quality (carbon fiber/kevlar) full face helmet, I wouldn't be writing this now.

As it happens, I do animal control professionally (after retiring from 30 years' service as a police officer, specializing in collision analysis & reconstruction, and primary investigator/supervisor for the Department's crash team for about 15 years), and deal with many deer issues, every single day. In my municipality, the two of us deal with an average of 1,000 deer annually, including ones killed in road collisions, injured deer we have to dispatch, problem deer, deer caught in fences, aggressive deer, etc.

The influx of deer into populated areas over the past few decades has resulted in a large increase in deer/vehicle collisions and, as WingAdmin advises, the motorcyclist rarely escapes unscathed.

To understand why deer have increased as a traffic hazard, it helps to understand the species. They prefer "transitional" habitats (deer are called a "transition species") - i.e., bush or forest area (as populations increase, the size of these areas required by deer is shrinking), bordering on an open area where food is plentiful & potential predators can be seen in advance. This pretty much describes modern suburbs...and roads.

In previous decades, deer were pretty much only seen at dawn and dusk, when their excellent eyesight gives them an advantage over predators. Now, however, this is largely negated by incidental light from street lighting, houses, stores, etc., so they are no longer limited to activity during those periods. The deer that struck me (yes, it hit me, not the other way around) got me at 4:00 p.m., on a bright, sunny summer day. I was traveling on a twisty country road, with dense underbrush right to the pavement edge. While taking a right-hand bend, a large buck exploded out of the bush from my right, & got me across the chest. According to bystanders, I was launched up into the air approximately 30 feet (I have no way of confirming this, as I was unconscious), landing in a heap on the pavement, while my bike righted itself, and carried off down the road. And off a short cliff. The buck was killed instantly from impacting my chest.

So...the previous posts have offered excellent information, but I thought I'd add a few recommendations of my own:

1) In an area where deer are known to be common, expect them at any time of day, NOT just dawn & dusk.

2) Be extremely cautious in areas where brush or forest meets the road closely - this is a "transition area", and is precisely the type of location deer prefer.

3) Don't ride close to the shoulder - stay out to the middle of the road as best you safely can.

4) In North America (i.e., where we right on the right side of the road), right turns are your worst for exposure, as deer can appear only a foot or two away from you, and you will have no chance of avoidance, braking, etc. if it suddenly darts into your path. If there are two lanes, try to avoid the right lane (closest to the fog line). The left lane gives you a better view of the shoulder ahead, and more room to maneuver.

5) If you see one deer, you can be certain that there are more, right there, that you don't see, and they will inevitably appear at the worst possible moment. As others have mentioned, the "rut" (basically, mid September through mid November, in many areas) can be the worst. Large bucks are single-minded and absolutely oblivious to hazards when they're pursuing an object of their affection (including does, dogs, sheep, bicyclists, etc.). They do not even seem to perceive vehicles on a highway.

6) If you see a deer on the roadside, and it appears to be waiting for the traffic you're following to pass, expect it to dart out & try to get between vehicles to cross the road. This seems to happen frequently to motorcycles in a pack of traffic - perhaps the deer see motorcycles as less of a threat due to their smaller size, and take the chance preferentially. In any case, it is disturbingly common.

I wish there were devices which could deter deer from the roads, but those on the market currently are basically "snake oil", despite ad campaigns to the contrary. Modulated headlights, etc., don't do more than momentarily confuse them (or worse, blind them), whereupon they dart out to escape the new perceived threat. The fact that they do the unexpected should come as no surprise - it's been a successful survival strategy for them for thousands of years, and it will continue to be so.

Anyway, I hope that some will read this and take heed. If it saves even one of my brothers or sisters on a motorcycle, it was worth the rant.

Ride safe, my friends!

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby dummysales » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:41 pm

Good words, mh434. I'd like to add to your headlight comment. And it pertains to all m/c traffic, not only those avoiding deer. Headlights confuse everyone, if not particularly deer. If you have a deer in your headlights, sometimes the safest thing to do is turn off your headlight (hard to do on a post '73 m/c). Deer are notoriously blinded by headlights and killing the headlight gives you that many more seconds to avoid hitting the deer. This, of course, requires thinking about that possibility before you need to do it. You'll need enough blackout time to get the deer to move and enough brain cells functioning to remember the lie of the road in the black out.

My biggest complaint about m/c operators in general is they are lazy when it comes to headlight dimmer switches. Some leave their "brights" up all the time in the daylight, thinking motorists will see them better. Some leave their lights on dim all the time so they don't have to use the dimmer switch. The object of these discussions is to allow you to learn the best way to avoid running into a deer. If you don't have your lights on bright, you compromise your safety. Learn to use the dimmer switch while changing gears and using turn signals. For those of us living in rural and transitional areas, avoiding dusk and dawn aren't options. I agree with riding on the yellow line; it gives you the very best opportunity to avoid any conflict of lane occupation.

Here's the thing about high beams during the day. In WWII the British Spitfire pilots learned a neat trick when attacking German planes. If the Spitfires took the highest position, and turned ON their landing lights, the German pilots below couldn't see them attacking until the last possible moment ( call it "washout"). It is the same with your m/c headlight. If you adjust the dim lights up so you don't have to use the dimmer switch at night, or ride with your high beams on during the day, you're blinding the opposition, including deer, other drivers, and especially folks over, say, seventy, whose eyes can't adjust quickly to the excessive light. mh434 may well have police stories of folks who reported, "I didn't see the motorcyclist" just before they hit the biker. I'd be interested in LEO comment as to if any of them ever bother to identify whether or not the m/c operator had his headlights either adjusted too high or using high beams at the time of impact.

Ride safe, brothers and sisters. Your survival depends upon it.

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby DUCKTOO » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:34 pm

OH DEER! it's that time in West Virginia too. (Which by the way is rated highest deer hit state in the country for at least the last two years.) In 2001 on my way home late at night I hit a big doe. Coming out of a curve I glanced my mirror to make sure my riding buddy was still back there. When I looked back forward all I could see was ORANGE! No time to go for brakes or to swerve. All I could do was tighten my grip on the bars. Luckily I hit it in the rear quarter and knocked it into the ditch. It had been on a dead run. I did not go down, and there in the dark I could not see any damage. Rode it on home and noticed my fork tubes were tweaked, and the fiberglass front fender was spider webbed, and flopped like a wet rag in the wind. I got lucky! I fixed the damage to my 75 GL-1000 and proceeded to accumulate over 300,000 miles over the next ten years. Very little of that was during DEER TIME! I have concluded that the best bet is to get off the road before dusk and stay off till full daylight. So far this strategy has been working well for the last 15 years. But I do miss night riding.

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby Iaustin » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:54 pm

We see deer here all the time best to pay attention drive as conditions warrant . They are in towns and cities out on the hi ways and backroads and you can bet if you see one there are more never hit one yet come close coming over a hill there was herd on hiway hit brakes swerved and skidded thru all of them maybe ten or twelve don't know how I didn't hit any. The scary ones are moose way bigger and they just keep on running the way they want.keep your eyes open shiny side up

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby joewing » Wed Nov 02, 2016 3:23 pm

Then there's the exception that proves the rule. Early in the 2nd week of a planned 3-week ride through the SW, I entered NM from CO - and came to the charming town of Chama. Stopped for lunch - high noon, sunny day in early August. As I stared to leave town, accelerating to around 50 or so (on GL1800), I FELT a sudden impact. Then I saw a smallish deer falling away to my right side. I kept riding briefly, hoping maybe I could continue my trip...but seeing too many pieces falling, and hearing radiator hiss, I stopped. Long story short, the deer was killed, the bike was, too, and I was VERY fortunate to have no injuries whatsoever (I do ride ATGATT). So watch for deer in season, at dusk, and ALL THE TIME!

FYI, Goldwing RoadRiders club insurance refused to do/pay ANYTHING...too far from nearest dealer.

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby captaindan » Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:06 pm

Deer tend to readily move prior to a weather change such as a cold front moving through. They feed two to three days prior so they can hunker down when the weather turns bad. Plus they will also move more at night when the moon is full.

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby offcenter » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:12 pm

hap2 wrote:Don't those deer whistles work?


My Goldwing came to me with some sort of electronic deer whistle mounted to the front of the fairing.
When I turn it on, I can barely hear it, if at all. But other people I know DO hear it. I know that my wife does.
Recently I was following my buddy on his noisy Harley FXR and had the thing turned on.
At a stop sign, he turned around and yelled at me, "Turn that damned thing off!"
He was hearing it on the road over the racket of the Harley!

I don't know if it works on deer, but it sure annoys Harley riders!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
George in Jersey.
99 Goldwing GL-1500 SE
76 Goldwing Gl-1000
77 Honda CT-90 "Trail 90"

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Mh434
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby Mh434 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:06 pm

Well, that might be worth the price of admission, right there!

mikemajor
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby mikemajor » Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:10 am

I bought a set of Deer whistle at Canadian Tire store after I almost hit a deer (scared the hell out of my better half)...
It's hard to say they don't work cause I never had a close call since, but my wife tells me that she noticed that wild life on the roadside and ditches always look up at the road as we approach. So, if not for deer it works with my wife as it makes her feel a lot more secure on the road

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Mh434
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby Mh434 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:20 am

If it helps, I had two of those (brand new) on my bike when I hit the deer that almost killed me...

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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby FM-USA » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:30 am

Mh434 wrote:If it helps, I had two of those (brand new) on my bike when I hit the deer that almost killed me...

I "HEAR" some Deer are deaf.
Other Deer hears those whistles and take it to mean "COME", just like Rover and Fido. :twisted:

No matter what you do, those Deer are going to spook and run in any and every direction.
Problem is, they seem to always run in front of you, never behind you. Which leads me to surmise they might be doing it on purpose.
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Know its new taste and be loyal, you'll know when to change that oil.
Taste testing as the miles flow, souring as that acid grows.
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Mh434
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Re: It's Deer Season!

Postby Mh434 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:58 am

SO true!! "BEWARE the Kamikaze buck!!" :lol: :roll:




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