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Thread: Deer Strike: To swerve or not to swerve

  1. #31
    Registered User ANDYVH's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Green Bay, WI
    Interesting comments on the "wolf" reaction David, as it explains the erratic action of deer when in close proximity to a potential crash. I have swerved to avoid a deer hit, when in a car, only to have the deer suddenly turn right back into my path and a crash resulted with a lot of vehicluar damage.

    Given that, I too feel the only "somewhat" reliable REACTION is to get HARD on the brakes in a straight line. If directional control is possible, aim for the deer's butt, so its not there when you get there, hopefully.

    But really, the only PROACTION choice is to always expect deer when the terrain and conditions "seem" right for them, and slow down. Yesterday, driving my company car, I had a large doe sprint at near full speed right across HWY 2 in Upper Michigan, right in front of me, at about 6:30pm, in bright sunlight, not more than a mile south of Crystal Falls (an area known for many deer).

  2. #32
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    Dec 2007
    Reno, NV

    "wolf" reaction

    I recall reading that, in Africa, the savannah antelope perform "stotting" when lions are near. This is a sort of high jumping dance, which is to convince the lion that the antelope is healthy and agile, and therefore too much effort to pursue. Technique is typically said to work, even in pretty close proximity to lions.
    Makes sense their distant cousins here in North America would develop something similar.

  3. #33
    Registered User glurkus's Avatar
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    May 2005
    In The Middle Of Kettle Moraine, WI
    I used to commute at night, and had one close encounter with a deer and one with a coyote.
    With the deer, I was riding my old '78 R80 (one front disc brake and rear drum brake) when a deer came out of the ditch less than 100 feet in front of me. Fortunately for me I was slowing down for a speed zone. I actually locked up the brakes hard enough to skid the back wheel, an amazing feat for that bike, and missed that deer by inches.
    I was on the freeway riding my '97 RT when the coyote came from out of the median, and I reacted by accelerating past it. If I would have tried braking, I would have probably hit it.
    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception."
    James Thurber

  4. #34
    Velocity Joint moezilla's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    SW MO Ozarks
    I agree that hard braking, generally, is probably the best action, if there's time for a reaction.

    My best riding buddy was headed to work early one morning on his new Connie, running about 60~65 mph, when a yearling doe ran in front of him from the side of the road. He said that he barely had time to even realize the deer was in front of him before he hit it, and had no time to even start braking. Amazingly, he managed to keep the bike upright, got it stopped, and then let it fall over. First thing he noticed was his seat was missing. Looking back down the road, he saw the seat laying about 30 feet past where he hit the deer, so he figures the back of the bike was pretty far off the ground. He swears that not hitting the brakes kept him from going over and down.

    After he stopped shaking, he called me to come rescue him. What I saw when I got there was the front of the deer in the middle of the road, and the rest of the carcass on the side. He had literally ridden right through the middle of the deer. We hauled the bike to the dealer, and they pronounced it a total loss. His insurance paid off, and he got to ride off on his second new Concours less than three weeks after he purchased the first one.
    "You must be fast, 'cause I was hauling *** when I passed you!"

  5. #35
    Das Drogenhandler troyboy's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    I hit a doe back in sept 1989 on my honda cx500. On a 2 laner with cornfield on right side,hills on left. Was about 10:30 pm,I was around 50 mph. She dashed out about 20' in front of me,I locked up brakes and she frooze dead center. Next thing I recall,laying in ER. I had on leather jacket,jeans,boots,gloves and goggles. I was 19 and cool(didn't need a helment). I now have 2 plates and indentations on my head. My advice,always scan,cover brake,use high beam and always wear the gear. Ask NAVYDAD about that weird guy he rides with.

  6. #36
    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    SW Ohio
    In Oct 05 I was riding home 45-50 mph, two lane, 2PM, saw a deer off the side of the road about 50 yards ahead. Then I remember sliding down the tarmac watching the K slide down the other side, trailing lots of expensive looking fragmented bits. No idea what happened. Deer may have broadsided me, may have locked em up, dunno. Deer got away. I broke my arm and ruined a really nice helmet. Lesson learned? Helmet good!
    1987 K75S
    Original litter
    Original owner
    2012 Ural Gear Up

  7. #37
    Registered User krpntr's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Mt Vernon WA

    dead deer all over the highways

    I am taking a secondary highway tour from the NW to the SE and I lost count a long time ago of all the deer, antelope, coyote, and sheep carcasses along side the road. They all looked to be fresh kills. In Colorado the nice police officer warned me of moose all over the road. He was not lying. Yes, I am a good rider but there is no defense except wearing the proper gear and saying alert.
    I was riding to work in my home town when I saw a deer on the side of the road, eating in the ditch. I slowed way down, the deer saw me coming, and took off across the road in front of me. Later that day i rode the same road back and there was the same deer, dead on the side of the road. If I was in my truck I could have fed the whole crew.

  8. #38
    Rally Rat CATHDEAC's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Round Rock, Texas
    Kill all them horned rats.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Greenwald View Post
    Pretty good advice.

    Spent my whole life motoring around in 'deer country,' so here's a few suggestions:

    1) Before you hit the deer, hit the brakes - HARD! Get on them (ABS a godsend at this moment) and get that bike slowed down as fast as you can - even if you cannot avoid the collison, make it a 30 MPH hit raher than 65.

    2) Duck! Lay down on the tank just prior to contact with a large animal - they often catapult over the bike and the windshield does little to blunt the energy of the beast. Sitting upright, as if a 200 lb. animal is going to bounce off of you, rarely has good results.

    3) Stay on the roadway - often evasive maneuvering results in secondary collisions with trees, fence posts, barbed wire or guardrails and ends up being worse than those dang forest rats. But if not severely injured post-collision, consider rolling off to the shoulder (or median) ASAP after the drama has subsided, lest an unaware following motorist uses you as a speed bump.

    4) ATGATT

    Greenwalds advise seems to be fairly sound.

    I wished I had practiced it when I hit a deer on the way to the National Rally last week on the back roads of Grants Pass, OR.

    Although it seemed I did not have anytime to do anything I did notice I instinctively moved to the left to avoid the deer, which did not work.

    Perhaps if I had stayed the course I might have missed the deer. At any rate I had but a second to respond and I think I could have done a better job in braking.

    The deer jumped out from the right side of road with no warning. I hit it square at around 40 mph and went down hard. If I had the time and used some of the above wisdom I might have not been injured as bad.

    I did sustain a shattered collar bone, 4 broken ribs and various bumps and bruises. But because of my firm belief in ATGATT the gear did an awesome job in preventing more extensive injuries.

    I practice emergency stops all the time but when the hazard suddenly appears from nowhere and you have but a second to respond there's little to do if you haven't spent time honing your instincts.

    Chris O

  10. #40
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    worked this time

    on my way back from the Redmond rally Cody SD was booked solid as well as Greybull so it forced a night run to Worman. I had my wife aim the PIAA's just right and I rode the center line at 50 mph while I scanned the ditches like a computer. I was pleased at how soon I spotted many deer and prong horns and false alarm horses in pastures. A mistake I made was after pinning the brakes and slamming my wife into me to miss a deer in my lane I laid on the horn at about 30 feet out. The deer would have cleared but the horn tuned her back across my path and the close call made for about 10 feet clearance when driving through. 20 miles later again at 50 mph I pinned the ABS brakes again. Slam came the wife and this time what I thought was a coyote eating road kill quickly came into veiw as 4 large racoons all balled up together for some reason. they never moved and I was down to 10 mph when I drove through the pile missing them with the wheel but bashing them with the hepco beckers. My advise, never drive faster than what road you can see can be stopped within at night or day and lower your risk in most of the ways mentioned. Oh by the way I also had near misses with deer near Estes and Flamming gorge both about 1 pm in the middle of the day.

    Hot Springs Ar (DEER HEAVEN)
    2007 R1200GS well farkled

  11. #41
    Mad Scientist monkeywork's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Eastern Upstate NY
    So far in the hills of the Berkshires, I haven't hit a deer with either a car or bike. I've seen them for sure.

    I believe that there is always some warning sign. Another critter will be on the side of the rode and will remind me that creatures are on the move.

    I'll take the hint from a squirrel.

    My headlights are wicked pissa bright, (twin lamps with their own relay direct to the battery) and I keep to the center line of the road. I figure if they are going to run out, I'll have a few seconds more warning if I'm away from the shoulder.

    So far so good.

    I could be the voice you're hearing.

  12. #42
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Eastern KY
    During the return ride,8/1/10, from the RA Rally in VT(great job Paul!) I was part of a threesome riding along the Pepacton Reservoir in the Catskills of NY state on Rt 30,a rural two lane.We rode up to a deer strike collision involving two motorcycles. We arrived after the ambulances as around the 4th-5 vehicles in the line.The first bike, a large Harley had hit the deer and the second, a Goldwing had hit the lead bike. The road was straight w/slight incline and a steep wooded bank on one side and a guard rail and a bank toward the lake on the other.The late morning was sunny. Involved were 3 persons: a single rider and a rider with a young girl on pillion. I tried a search for the persons condition on return home but have had no luck . One rider was trying to assist the other as we arrived. That rider and the girl were not moving and I have no idea if they survived. The lead rider was wearing a beanie helmet and this accident was not a testamonial for the efficacy of that type helmet. While standing back on the hwy I noticed the skid marks and metal to pavement scratches to be in the 90-100' range. In simple/amature analysis it would seem that there was not enough space between the two bikes. We were not allowed nearer the scene(as should be) to make further observation,etc..
    The next day in a WV rest area I explained the above to a Goldwing rider enroute to a rally and he said he had taken a large deer head on, with the deer lodged between the front fender and the HL assy and it had taken him around 90-100' to stop. He said that he was unhurt and that the bike damage was not real major(he was riding it then) .
    I live a heavy deer area(what isn't these days?!) and try to never ride/drive at night and if so slowly. Anyone in that region have further info on that accident?

  13. #43
    Registered User beemermyke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Richmond Hill, Georgia
    Came into work yesterday and a coworker had his hand and forearm in a hard cast, complete with protruding thumb. When I asked him what happened, he said "I'll give you $1000 if you can guess". He's not a motorcyclist, so I didn't even try. He was riding his bicycle and got hit! Broad daylight with a friend, back country road, he sees a large doe run in front of him 100 feet away, but he failed to see the fawn that unceremoniously plowed into the side of his bicycle. Dislocated his thumb and some other damages. The deer? It was knocked out for a good 10 minutes, then awoke and walked off into the woods. Guess ya don't need an engine to have a major impact...
    Motorcycling is my passion because golf is far too dangerous!
    2016 R1200GSW

  14. #44
    Registered User
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    Sep 2005
    Eastern KY
    We think of deer as a likely to be coordinated animal, but like the fawn mentioned the bastards keep knocking down my split rail fence I built along my entrance road!

  15. #45
    Where does this road go?? Gottago's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Southern Oregon
    My husband and I were riding across the UP in Michigan early one morning. Three deer came out of the woods running at full speed like they were being chased. My husband hit the brakes (ABS) missing the first one. He threw the bike to the right narrowly missing the back end of the second one. Braced himself for impact for the third one. When nothing happened he looked in his mirror to see a deer upside down with all four feet in the air. Since I was behind him he figured I'd center punched it. Unbeknown to him the third deer had tried to jump over him but when he swerved to the right to miss the second deer the third caught her front foot on our tent that was strapped on back of the bike flipping her upside down. She landed in front of me on her back in the road. While all this was going on I was on the brakes for all I was worth. It was an easy matter to throw the bike to the right to avoid her. She got up and ran away and we continued on until it sunk in what just happened.
    We pulled over to collect ourselves and calm down.
    One trick he has taught me is how to spot deer in the woods. He's a white tail deer hunter from his youth. He said look for horizontal lines in the tree line. This might be a deer's back. It somewhat sticks out from all the vertical trees.
    "If they are running you out of town
    get in front of the crowd and make it
    look like a parade!"

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