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Is there any way of predicting where deer will run?

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Is there any way of predicting where deer will run?

Old 04-14-16, 10:10 AM
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David Bierbaum
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Is there any way of predicting where deer will run?

I'm wondering mightily, since I came within a foot or less of being T-boned by one crossing the MUP from behind last Saturday, as I was carefully watching two other running deer. He/she/it zipped just behind me, and if I'd hit the brakes, he totally would have nailed me. What are these deer thinking, when they run into trouble instead of away from it?
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Old 04-14-16, 10:17 AM
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I've actually contemplated that. I think to a deer, it's a binary operation that is "unencumbered by the thought process" as Click and Clack used to say.

If they see what they perceive as danger, they run ... regardless of the direction.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:19 AM
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Term: "deer".
Definition: "An animal with the body of a small horse, and the brain of a rabbit".

Someone recently was telling me they are most likely to run in the direction their nose is currently pointing, but I have no proof of that.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:28 AM
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Don't they read the signs?

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Old 04-14-16, 10:39 AM
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Deer aren't equipped to fight and defend themselves. They have 2 defense mechanisms; freeze and bolt. When they sense a threat they first freeze hoping their camouflage will keep them from being seen. If they sense they've been made, they bolt and run for their lives.

Unfortunately, when they take off running, it's a full tilt panic run hoping to outrun whatever might be chasing. In that state they're mentally (what little they have) on the threat behind, and not on what may be ahead. In any case, they couldn't consider a bicyclist a threat, and will try to jump over or past you.

Can you predict when they'll bolt, not really, but it will usually happen after they've tried the "freeze" method first. So if you see a deer happily grazing or walking, odds are you're OK. But if you see one in that frozen stance, he may hold that or bolt.

Also be aware that bicycles are pretty quiet, and it's easy for one to "sneak up" on an animal, and set it into panic mode when he suddenly senses your approach.

My advice is that if you see deer in the area you should make sure they know you're coming from a long way off.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:53 AM
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Ever get a up close and personal look at a deer hoof? They can hurt you, and there are four of them. They can attack, just Google "deer attack", you'll see plenty of examples. If you see one standing still and looking at you, and it's stomping it's foot and snorting, it is preparing to attack. It will still most likely run away, but it's ready to fight.
If you look at the sides of the roads around here the answer to the OP's question is obvious; They will run into the approaching bumper of any passing car. Including mine.
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Old 04-14-16, 11:07 AM
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I was running in the Percy-Quin State Park in MS and as I came around a corner, a deer came out of the woods. We saw each other, both of us jumped and veered in opposite directions. They do take evasive action but in your case, you may have been in the way when it was already running scared.
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Old 04-14-16, 11:08 AM
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Umm, just ask them?
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Old 04-14-16, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Don't they read the signs?

[/video]
Thank you for this much needed comic relief.

I'd ask if it was recorded on April, 1, but (sadly) I suspect it's straight.
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Old 04-14-16, 11:18 AM
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Watching the deer where I live, in a mostly-rural area, what I see is that they rarely panic; but once they get it in their brains that they want to cross the road, they're GOING TO cross the road. If they want to cross before the car gets to them, and the car is already to them, it doesn't matter, they'll just run a little faster. After all, they're the fastest things in the woods, right? So OF COURSE they'll cross in time to avoid a mishap. The solution is, when you see a deer, STOP. The deer may still hit you, but at least that'll limit the speed at which they hit.
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Old 04-14-16, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
if I'd hit the brakes, he totally would have nailed me. What are these deer thinking,
Nailing you is probably what he was trying to do. He probably thought that you looked like a lady deer.

You might try sticking some tree branches into your helmet's air vents to make you look more buck like - but not during hunting season.
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Old 04-14-16, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post

My advice is that if you see deer in the area you should make sure they know you're coming from a long way off.
Quacking like a duck or barking like a dog may help, and will certainly entertain anyone else around.
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Old 04-14-16, 02:05 PM
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This is why I hunt them. It's a reckoning.
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Old 04-14-16, 03:11 PM
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I suspect that the best response for deer, when detecting a possible threat, has been to move, regardless of the direction. Once in motion, then maybe take time to figure out where the threat is and put some distance between the deer and the threat.

When I'm in an area where I know deer hang out, I'll ring my bell or make other noise. Better to let them know that I'm coming than to surprise them. The prime time to see the deer is along the nearby Illinois river bluffs near sunset. The deer tend to be snacking in the cornfields and take shelter in the wooded areas along the bluff. If they are spooked, they'll bolt for the bluffs, crossing the road that I'm riding on. I keep an eye out for them and try to get their attention before I get close.

I do feel your pain, though. I used to live in Chesterfield and rode in the area around Spirit of St. Louis airport and Babler park. Beautiful area and lots of hills, but the deer were constantly jumping in front of me as I can down the hills. Other than trying to not ride during the hours when the deer are moving around (dusk and dawn, I believe), there's not a lot you can do. .. unless you are willing to constantly have a siren running or some other noisemaker.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 04-14-16, 04:00 PM
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If they are running they (usually) aren't alone.

If they are running they are looking for an out.

Give them space, don't get between them and their out.

And never get between them and their young.


I've posted this before elsewhere:


-mr. bill
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Old 04-14-16, 04:15 PM
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A deer will do the most unpredictable thing at the most inopportune time--plan accordingly!
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Old 04-14-16, 04:30 PM
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If that woman is any example of the state of the human race then we are surely doomed. But I think that is obvious anyways, we are at the end. The human race is an accidental occurrence anyways and at best an experiment of the almighty.

Dee run wear they run. Squirrels run where they run. Throw the dice, hope for the best. I wish they would do something about those damn squirrels. I hate getting the squirrel guts on my tires and the messy pinch flats that result. I mean, like, put up some signs so the squirrels will know there are bicycles and cars about.

I mean, how can I possibly predict which cyclists they might go! Those dang cyclists just do not get over 3 feet from my car! Cannot they read?



J

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Old 04-14-16, 04:44 PM
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You mentioned that you "were carefully watching two other running deer".

When ever you see deer on the move, look where they came from, not where they're going. There's usually one or two more ready to bolt.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:01 PM
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I think we are intruding on their space and so it is beholden on us to watch out for them.
And I fully agree with the ranting lady vid. Why doesn't the government just move the signs so the deer will
cross in a safer area. Makes perfect sense to me.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:20 PM
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We have many deer where I ride. I take great care to not spook them/make them aware of my presence, and I slow way down. As noted, they react direction unpredictably to a perceived sudden threat.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:56 PM
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Heh. I loved that deer crossing sign video. I despair of the Human Race, who thinks that deer can be trained by Government Officials to recognize and obey Traffic Signs. Doubtless through the use of deerwalking violation citations, and appropriate court fines...
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Old 04-14-16, 06:03 PM
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^ And hamsters should be required to wear safety harness tethers when running on their wheels...Click It or Ticket.

Plus another thing. Why do deer in my back yard sometimes challenge me but invariably run screaming from any or all of my three Pomeranians?

Last edited by ltxi; 04-14-16 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 04-14-16, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ltxi View Post
^ And hamsters should be required to wear safety harness tethers when running on their wheels...Click It or Ticket.

Plus another thing. Why do deer in my back yard sometimes challenge me but invariably run screaming from any or all of my three Pomeranians?
You need to bark louder? I saw that Donna the deer lady video before, and thought it might be my ex, but she's in the wrong state. Notice, there's a part 2, just about as funny.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:31 PM
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If you live in western PA and you drive a car, you learn very early that, if you see 1 deer, there's 2 or 3 more at least to follow. If driving down the road and you see a deer cross up ahead, you stop. If you don't have time to stop, floor it and aim for the first deer. You'll miss it and the next deer will pass harmlessly behind you.

I haven't encountered a deer on the road on the bike yet, but I see plenty on the rail trails. They are usually just standing in the brush and I've never had them cross out in front of me. Every time they've turned around and meandered up the hill side or down the hill towards the river.

I was riding at dusk one night on the trail and had to stop. Up on the hillside I could see a freakin goat! What the heck was a goat doing in the woods in PA? Then I realized it was an albino deer. They aren't too common, but you will see them a few times in your life if you live in western PA. I stood and watched it a while when I heard a snort right beside me. A regular deer was standing there in the brush 3 feet away from me.


It's really cool when you find a new born along the road laying next to it's mother that was just hit (that's not the cool part, really sad and will bring a tear to your eye to hear it) so you take it home and bottle feed it to save it (that's the cool part.) We did that at my girlfriend's parents house. We had it in the basement setup with a bed in the old non-used fireplace. We would take it outside on a leash and walk around the yard.

Eventually it was big enough to let it go in the woods. Away it ran, but not forever. Every day at 6 pm it would pound at the front door with it's hoof to come for something to eat. We would open the door and in it would walk. By now, it's a full size deer walking right into the living room. If you laid down on the floor, it would chew on your hair. The little 4 year old niece of my girlfriend loved that.

Eventually it quit coming around. Then on Christmas Eve with all her family there getting ready to eat Christmas dinner, we hear a banging at the door. Someone opened the door and in walked the deer. It was like it came to visit us for Christmas. That was the last time it came down to the house. Her dad had put an orange vest and a bell on it and when riding the quads out in the fields we would still see it for several years.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:38 PM
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Prey animals instinctively look for predatory motions: legs moving, a wave-like undulating motion. This helps them gauge perspective, speed, direction, etc., and adjust accordingly.

Wheeled vehicles don't give prey animals these clues. Vehicles lack the undulating, wave-like galloping motion. With the exception of bicycles there's no indication of legs moving. But our leg movement is obscured by the bicycle itself, and we lack the recognizable undulating, wave-like motion.

Prey animals aren't certain of distance, direction or speed so they wait until the last moment, which our movement becomes more apparent against the background terrain and other objects -- trees, etc.

When they finally dart out they may head across the road toward a stand of trees, or toward an area they associate with safety -- someplace where they've eaten or bedded down before. Or they may head toward any area that appears to be open and clear for escape -- often right across or along with a highway.

Mr Bill's video demonstrates typical deer behavior when they're uncertain about a fast moving, possible predator. In that case I'd have slowed way down and given them plenty of time to escape. As it was, they continued running alongside the road and could have recrossed directly into the bike's path again.

With white tail deer you may get some indication of their likely escape route. Look for that telltale white flag and direction of the lead deer. Usually the others will follow and they don't seem to change direction as abruptly or unexpectedly. Mule deer are tougher to predict.
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