Hitting a deer

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by bigsnowdog, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    We have a lot of deer, and particularly at night they are a problem. I have never hit one, and hope to avoid it.

    My question is for those who have hit a deer: Is there any strategy that you believe to be useful when such a thing occurs? I realize that in most instances you could not have a single second's time to respond, but.... do you recomment any particular behavior prior to impact?

    Do you steer into the mass of it? Do you try to strike a glancing blow if possible? Is there any course of action that could help?

    Perhaps you have had some thoughts after the incident, analyzing all that occurred.
    #1
  2. slowoldguy

    slowoldguy Tire Tester

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    Why would you ask those that have hit a deer? Doesn't it make more sense to ask those who have avoided hitting a deer?



    I live on a high fenced game ranch with sometimes as many as 160 deer in residence. They are curious, they are unpredictable and the phrase "deer in the headlights" (freezing) is true enough. Best advice? Slow down at dusk and dawn. Don't ride through rural deer country at night if you can avoid it. If you see one deer the other(s) are right behind her or right ahead. If a deer crosses in front of you plan on it doubling back as there may have been some impediment blocking their way or her fawn may not have followed. Watch extra carefully around creeks or any treed ravines or low spots. Deer don't stay in the road as a rule. They are simply trying to cross it to satisfy a need of food , water , protection, or mating. Kinda like college students.

    Now faced with the emergency situation where hard braking while hammering the horn is not possible , and the only choices remaining are hit with my wheel turned or wheel dead straight , I'm taking dead straight. It worked for me on a 60 pound dog. Hit him right at the shoulder and sent him literally flying like a pool ball. My total mass of 900 lbs versus his 60 . I've always felt we go down when we leave the roadway, or swerve and they take our turned front wheel out from under us, or 3 (the worst) up and over the windshield. That's where the "hope you were going slow" part comes in. I have two friends who have been knocked off their motorcycles by bucks trying to jump the bike from the side and taking the rider off with them. Both survived, one ATTGAT, one lucky sh*t on a sportster.
    #2
  3. slowoldguy

    slowoldguy Tire Tester

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    Now our whitetail in Texas are small compared to your's in Iowa but the advice stays the same. If you aim at him chances are he will spook ultimately at the light, at the horn sound or the squeal of you and/ or your brakes BUT without more predictors, which I doubt are available in your time of need, you don't know which way.
    #3
  4. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    Yes, I should have mentioned that group of folks, too. I am, however, interested in the remarks made by those who have actually had the misfortune of hitting a deer. There is probably something to be learned from those people.

    Thank you for replying, your comments on deer habits are very good. I have stopped to see a deer cross in front of me, only to be followed by 14 more deer, all of whom walked along as if there was nothing unusual occurring. That was about three miles from my house, closer to timber. I live in mostly open corn country, but deer spend time on my reforestation project, I can tell by their effect on trees and by the droppings.
    #4
  5. JamesJWeg

    JamesJWeg "Speedy"

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    Since I live and ride in a high deer area I have had a few close ones and only one contact. They keys to avoidance are, slow down in the bad times like dusk through dawn, as soon as you see one get in the binders no matter how far from the road it is, hit your horn which seems to stop them from freezing in the headlights. That said, there are still those times when you have Zero time to do anything. My one contact with deer was like that, about 2:30 - 3:00 am, on a back road, I was on my kawasaki cruser pushing 80 - 90 mph, open clear road, I saw a flash of a deer's head at the edge of my head light on the left side, and and felt something slam into my back, when I tried to clutch in to slow up I relized that it was my left arm that had hit me in the back, about that time the pain hit, the deer's nose had hit my elbow. You will notice, the one thing which prevented my from reacting in time to the deer was my speed, on a road which seemed open with wide shoulders, bottom line SLOW DOWN! From my experiances with smaller animals and a friend who did hit a deer, I would say simply stay straight and loose as much speed as you can.

    James.
    #5
  6. Too Many Toys

    Too Many Toys Adventure Poseur

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    As a fellow Iowan that has had the displeasure of wacking a bambi I can only tell you what I did & the results.

    My deer strike happened in the middle of the day in June while riding my 1150GS. That was the first surprise. I always look for deer at dusk & after dark. I wasn’t expecting it at 1:00PM.

    The medium-sized doe came at about a 45-degree angle from the left. It was on a county two-lane & I was only going 55-60MPH. I first hit the brakes hard. But I could tell I wasn’t going to miss her. So I accelerated hard, ducked down & held the bars as tight as I could. My fear was that I’d hit it off-center & crash. I hit it dead center with the front wheel. The deer bounced off & I continued w/o going down.

    Results? Busted beak & fender, dents in oil cooler, destroyed driving light on crash bar, deer meat stuck to things. I think that the two things that saved me were the Telelever front end & the opposed cylinders. The Telelever helped prevent the deer from flopping the wheel to the right & crashing me. The right cylinder took the brunt of the hit, protecting my leg.

    I don’t care to have it happen again. I keep telling myself that it’s like getting struck by lightening, it can’t happen twice. :D
    #6
  7. HardCase

    HardCase winter is coming

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    I live in a rural area with a high deer (and other wildlife) population (Montana) and while I've never personally hit a deer on a motorcycle, have spoken with several acquaintances who have and have had a couple of 'close calls', not to mention two hits while driving a car.

    My advise? Get on the brakes, hard, and keep it upright and going in a straight line. While deer are unpredictable they will make their first leap in the direction that they are facing, although may then double back as they start their wolf-avoidance zig-zagging. But the main thing in the event of an apparently imminent collision is to reduce your speed as much as possible prior to impact, and you can't do that while swerving on a bike or you'll go down for sure.
    #7
  8. wedgeman

    wedgeman square peg, round whole

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    One little caveat.. Deer tend to zig/zag hard, but they have ZERO traction on pavement. So if/when they panic, they will zig but their feet will zag, and you'll get the benefit of Bambi in full low-side action. I've racked up several eastern whitetails in this manner. With cars, I've gotten a bit lazy and generally just go straight ahead. I've had several totalled, but never hurt. Don't wanna do that with a bike--I don't think the results wouldbe consistent..

    All my own animal experience (rabbits, dogs, cats :rofl, and possums) has been pretty good.

    If it looks unavoidable, I just point straight, grab the clampers and burn off all possible speed until the moment of impact, then slam on the throttle WTO. The biggest canine I've scored was a rotweiler-sized mutt (I think it killed him, though he did get off the road). It brought the front end up good & high, but no bent rim and I kept the rubber on the road and me above it..

    THe only thing you DON'T want to do is have your front wheel braking hard on impact--it'll pass too much shock thru, and the front wheel's centrifugal force tends to add a bit of an advantage of somesort, from my experience. I only once stayed on the brakes too long (my first score--a rabbit), and I nearly ate a big rock because of it.. I learned that lesson fast..
    #8
  9. Zip

    Zip Long timer

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    The deer population in the Southern Tier of New York State is among the highest anywhere in the world.

    I don't travel at night on the bike. Period.

    I scan for deer year-round. Much of the time, deer are the biggest hazard I face. An empty road may look safe. Better look again.

    I have noticed an abundance of road-kill deer this summer. Deer strikes are supposed to be at a minimum this time of year. Yet there are plenty of them. That tells me the problem is serious.

    I saw a car driver clobber a deer. I saw the deer from a long way off. It was out in the open, trotting towards the road. The car driver never saw it, never took any sort of evasive action, never slowed, just collided with it.

    You can't see 'em if you aren't looking for 'em.
    #9
  10. spagthorpe

    spagthorpe Long timer

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    I'd like to get one of those heat sensing heads up displays for the helmet. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    I had a mid-day scare with a small deer just a few days ago. Must have been 1pm, maybe 2pm, and the deer was right on th edge of the road. She never moved more than her head, but I had slowed quite a bit by the time I got to her, and then accelerated when I knew I could clear her.

    Nothing like the free range cattle you would sometimes find on the road in other places I've lived....
    #10
  11. nomiles

    nomiles Sledge-o-matic

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  12. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    unreal. :huh
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  13. yellow 1150GS

    yellow 1150GS Been here awhile

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    I recently had a deer run across the road, change direction and fall in front of me. I just missed hitting it. Now I'm a little more careful and watchful when running at dusk or dark, especially on the interstate when you see all the deer standing on the shoulders right off the pavement. When they are that close to the road, you don't have a chance if they decide to run.
    #13
  14. rtlittledevil

    rtlittledevil Choder Boy the Germonkey

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    :huh Damn! That lady is lucky to be breathing! :nod
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  15. RockyRaccoon

    RockyRaccoon Found:Gideon's Bible

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    :wave Scrub speed without losing control and stay straight. :thumb

    We hit a deer at fairly high speed. The deer was in the process of lunging in front of us when the beak of the GS hit it in the head. The deer's body slammed into the side of the bike, smashing the system luggage on that side, which saved my wife's leg (but which was badly bruised anyway). My leg was saved by the left jug. The beak and most of the front plastic was blown apart. The deer was left spinning like a top in the road and died instantly. I felt a solid jolt jolt go through the bike but was surprised how stable it felt through it all. We didn't go down and no structural damage was done.

    You never know in a situation like that, but I think some of the worst outcomes occur when people make wild moves prior to impact and physics spanks them good.
    #15
  16. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul Super Moderator

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    Until today, I figured I was the only rube that ever crashed into a deer on a bike. I never met anyone else that had.

    About 10 years ago when I was living in NY and riding up near Bear Mountain, I was riding rather calmly on a FZR1000 - at 45mph. really. The deer came from my right and impacted me and the bike in a hard quartering blow. It sent the bike into a tank slapper, knocking my hands from the bar. After a few occillations, the bike righted itself. It left five stark, black arcs of tire rubber in the road, as well as a sea of fractured plastic. I rolled to a stop in a WTF daze.

    The deer limped away.

    The bike took most of the impact, as well as my right thigh. I had a bruise the size of a loaf of bread for a few weeks. Curiously, I was covered in deer piss and other foul excrement, but the bike and I had enough mass and stability to continue.

    The right clip on had to be bent back, and some plastic stripped away, but I rode 150 miles to get home that day. I was pretty sore for a while.

    Anyway, this all happened in broad daylight at about 1pm on a Sunday.

    I have another story about a wild horse in Northern New Mexico. That one dates back into the mid 80's - a time when I traveled much faster on an '83 GS750ES. I'll save that one for another time.
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  17. scooteraug02

    scooteraug02 Dog Rancher

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    The parts guy at the local bike shop said he got hit by a deer on the way home from dinner with the folks. He didn't see the deer, it nailed him from the side like a football player blind siding a quarterback throwing a pass. That is kind of scary, how do you prevent that?

    You can follow behind a car if one is available.

    I guess you can't prove wether or not the deer whistles work unless you have the whistles and hit a deer then you know they don't work.
    #17
  18. Vance

    Vance On my meds...

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    Grab hard and plan to blast straight through the bugger. He just may turn and burn.
    #18
  19. HardCase

    HardCase winter is coming

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    I don't recommend this. A friend of mine nearly hit a deer which ran out in front of a car he was following, got hit, went down spinning in the road, and my friend ended up swerving and going into the ditch. Deer are too unpredictable and if you're following a car closely you might just find yourself in a worse position than you would if it weren't present. The car will partially block your view of the road ahead, and if it hits it's brakes quickly to avoid a crash, you might end up rear-ending the car.....I'd prefer to take my chances with the deer!
    #19
  20. JamesJWeg

    JamesJWeg "Speedy"

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    A very good friend and riding buddy of mine hit three deer while he had whistles on his bike, he removed them and has not hit another deer since.

    James.
    #20