When you see antlers, it’s time to stop.
Deer mating season runs from October to January, peaking around Thanksgiving. While the season is coming to a close, winter vegetation could cause some problems for drivers on Georgia roads.
“Even this time of year though, you’ve got to realize that some of the only green things left are going to be on the right-of-ways, and so they’re going to come out to those to feed,” said Region 2 game management supervisor Ken Riddleberger.
The deer population in Georgia has decreased since its peak, which was around 1.3 million, in the late 1980s, Riddleberger said. The population has stabilized around more than 1 million.
The change has been marked by the policies regarding doe days and either-sex days, which govern what sex of the animal can be hunted.
“In just the past two years, we’ve reduced the number of doe days to try and stabilize the population statewide at the level that it’s at,” Riddleberger said.
While the mountainous areas have had fairly low and stable deer populations, pockets of land in urbanized areas where not much hunting takes place can lead to higher deer populations.
“There’s some locally abundant deer populations right around Gainesville and those places you still have way too many deer,” Riddleberger said.
The unpredictable nature of deer can cause problems for Georgia drivers particularly in the late nights and early mornings.
“I’ve had them jump out in front of me, and I didn’t have any sort of prewarning that there was a deer anywhere around,” said Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Anthony Coleman.
Scanning far down the road and looking for signs of deer, Coleman said, can help avoid dangerous decisions.
“Their eyes do illuminate with lights,” he said. “If you can just sort of think about stuff that might be reflecting in your lights down the road on the shoulders and anticipate a possible danger, slow down so you can identify what that was.”
If you cannot safely move around the deer or stop, Riddleberger said the best thing to do is just slow down as much as possible to limit the impact.
“You may damage your vehicle, but most of the bad collisions are when people try to avoid something and go off the road, lose control, flip their vehicle,” he said.