During late-fall’s rutting season, any “street sense” our urban bucks have developed is likely lost in a hormone-induced haze.
Their behaviour can seem irrational, but really they’re just single-minded. It’s important to be aware they might run out into the road, when that wouldn’t be their usual behaviour. They’re likely not even seeing you, they’re just following a doe’s scent, and if they see a doe or are following a scent, they’re not paying attention to anything else around them.
With that in mind, it’s important drivers, cyclists and others pay attention, especially around dawn and dusk, when deer tend to be more active.
While bucks are only interested in other deer, it’s best to keep your distance as you would with any wildlife:
- When walking, give bucks extra space – Because a deer’s natural response to danger is to run, always leave it an escape route far away from yourself. Keep dogs on a leash and if you encounter a deer, keep your dog pulled in close to you, stop it barking if you can, and walk away from the deer to give it more distance. Always check your yard carefully for deer before letting your dog out.
- When driving, watch the roadside – Drive as though you were in a playground or school zone; pay extra attention and reduce speed, especially when driving in unfamiliar areas at dawn and dusk. Scan ahead, looking for movement or shining eyes at the roadside.
- When cycling, give yourself time and space – Take plenty of room so you can react to any unpredictable movement. If its safe to do so, pull out from the curb and give the deer a wide berth. Slow down, and just like a driver, scan ahead, looking for movement.
You might also see bucks rubbing their antlers on trees and fighting each other in demonstrations of strength. This can be loud and seem aggressive, so keep your distance from these paramours!