Why Do Deer Hang Out by the Road?

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If you have ever had the opportunity of driving by a populated deer forest, you may notice that deer can’t help but take their strolls on the roadside. For a very long time, I thought that this was just a way of living until I came across a newspaper article regarding the topic. The author claimed that this species is drawn to the roadside by the traffic noise and headlights, especially at night.

Why Do Deer Prefer to be by the Roadside?

Looking at it from his perspective, I went further ahead and researched deeper. His statement was correct; deer physical and internal characteristics draw it towards the road.

Did you know that unlike humans with a 120-degree field of view, deer boasts of an impressive 310 degree? Keep in mind that its eyes are strategically placed at each side, which means that it can partially view its rear environment while still facing forward. In between the dense forests in the wild, its predator view is somewhat distracted, unlike when it is by the open roadside.

Also, a deer has night vision abilities with the help of its numerous photoreceptors in its retina. This, together with its sharp ear functioning, it finds itself beside the road more often than not, especially at night. It is not that they cannot help keep off the road; it is how they are wired. Once it spots a bright light from afar or hears any new sounds, it steers towards it.

Another reason why they prefer hanging out by the road instead of deep in the woods is their predator relationship. Those carnivorous species that deer find most lethal tend to prefer the company of in-depth forest coverage. Walks by the road will overexpose them to hunters and unnecessary attention, hence avoid them. If the prey’s position is in a location you find dangerous, then the chances of you getting to it are pretty slim, and that is how the deer survives.

Why Do Deer Run In Front of Cars?

Deer spending considerable amounts of time by the road is what has seen the rise of deer-related road accidents. Our article: Why Do Deer Jump in front of Cars seeks to understand if the behavior is intentional or unplanned.

A deer is a keen animal and a swift one per se; however, it finds itself stranded and no possible way out in specific periods. Since it has a high powered retina, exposure to large amounts of light may blind it for a few minutes.

For example, once a deer sees a pair of headlights approaching from afar, it will start its walk or run towards it. However, the closer the source of light gets, the brighter it becomes. When too close to the headlights, its eyes blind, and the deer freezes, the driver, on the other hand, will only observe a deer staring at him. If not careful in such a scenario, serious may come to either you or the deer.

Honking at the spooked deer may or may not work, which brings us to our next section.

Should You Honk at a Deer?

Among the many approaches to handling yourself in such an encounter, honking is the most practical. Immediately you observe a deer on your lane, honk for as long and hard as possible at the deer, hoping it gets spooked enough to speed off. Experts recommend using a loud and sharp horn that is long enough to jerk the deer into action.

Honking it helps since it does not have any visual on the approaching threat as far as it is concerned. The honk may be enough to stutter it into moving away from the path of the vehicle. In case you doubt your horn’s ability, flashing the lights may also trigger a response on the already frozen animal.

Honking is not the only step to successfully tackling the situation; always keep calm and firmly break your vehicle. Since deer is an unpredictable animal, I recommend that you stick to your lane instead of trying to swerve your way off the mess. The reason being, the direction you expect to move to may be the same direction the deer escapes towards, resulting in an accident you were avoiding.

Deer populated roads and environments are clearly marked, so keep an eye out for the deer sign along new routes to avoid surprises.

Should You Call Police After Hitting a Deer?

Lawfully, there is no need to call a police officer after accidentally hitting a deer by the road. The main reason why car owners tend to involve law enforcement on road accidents is that insurance companies require filling of police forms. 

On the other hand, involving the police is not a bad idea. They will help you get rid of any queries and uncertainties; I even heard that they could allow you to walk with the meat.

Is it Wrong to Hit and Run a Deer?

In answering this question, I will take on two approaches. On the one hand, if you accidentally hit a deer on the road and leave it behind, that is no crime. However, it is humane to check on the injured animal and move it to the side to avoid further accidents.

On the other hand, if you accidentally hit it and instead of leaving it alone, you decide to take the meat, then it is illegal. It is unlawful for you to take its carcass without consulting the authorities who are to issue you with a warrant. It is also not a must for the officers to allow you the dead animal; they may find it best to confiscate or bury it.


Walking by the roadside makes deer feel a bit secure from the predators in forests. However, this gets them quite distracted and often causes accidents with motorists.

The next time you find yourself face to face with a deer at high speed, try and follow the mentioned tips. 

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