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Deer: A Hazard for Cyclists?(24 posts)

Deer: A Hazard for Cyclists?commuterguy
Jan 15, 2003 7:25 AM
Does anyone here know much about deer behavior, specifically if deer with horns (bucks?) would ever be inclined to impale a cyclist?

My commute is mostly along the Capital Crescent Trail, which has long stretches through relatively deep woods. Last night, I saw a surprisingly bright green luminescence slightly off the path. Initially, I thought it might be a jogger's reflective vest, but as I got closer I realized it was my headlight reflected back at me by the eyes of a very large deer, with big horns (antlers?).

I pointed my light away, thinking he might be "frozen in the headlights" (does this really happen?) Coincidently or not, the deer then turned away and bounded off into the woods.

I was worried, because this path would not permit a quick U-turn, and had this beast wanted to, he could have gored me. My main question is: would a startled/alarmed deer ever do that, or is their inclination always to flee (unless cornered)? Also: are male deer solitary? I have encountered female deer (or at least deer w/o horns) in groups. They don't scare me as much, although I have had them run across the path right in front of me.

Thanks in advance for your help.
City slickers. sheesh. :)rightsaidfred
Jan 15, 2003 7:28 AM
.00005% chance "that beast would gore you."

Watch out for the real beasts. They walk upright on two legs.
Gore you?ClydeTri
Jan 15, 2003 7:32 AM
Seeing you lived in Washington DC area, the chance of you being "Gored" has gone done tremendously in the last month or so. :~)
re: City slickers. sheesh. :)commuterguy
Jan 15, 2003 7:37 AM
Thanks for the advice. BTW, I am well aware of the risks that the two-legged beasts pose (:)). The horned deer risk is new to me. Also note: this occurred within the boundaries of the nation's capital: the deer are intruding on the city slickers' domain, not the other way around.

I assume those horns have a purpose beside decoration. Who/what ends up on the sharp end of them?
Jan 15, 2003 9:15 AM
Bucks use their antlers to rattle and spar with each other (not injure each other) as a display of dominance, to get mates etc.

I have heard of the occasional man (one bow hunter) that has been "attacked" by a deer. He had to worry more of the kicking, than the antlers.

For the most part (99.999999999999%) deer will flee.
Get out there with a rifle, if you think they are "intruding." Guess we need more hunting. (I won't mention the fact that they were there before the city was).
more on horns=antlersrightsaidfred
Jan 15, 2003 9:32 AM
From some websites:
Antlers are composed of true bone that grows from the front of the skull each year beginning in April. The bone is full of blood vessels and nerves and is covered with "velvet". Growth continues through August or September, when calcium is deposited along the blood vessels. The bone then hardens, and the velvet dries up and sloughs off or is rubbed off against trees and shrubs. By November, all of the velvet is rubbed off. Deer shed their antlers by winter's end.

Antlers play an important role in deer society. Rubbing the antlers on trees marks territories, and sparring matches determine dominance. Rubbing creates tell-tale "rubs" and sparring leaves the ground disturbed. Locating these tell-tale signs is one way to target an area with active bucks.
With the arrival of fall comes the hardening of antlers, a drying of antler velvet and an increasing number of sparring matches. These sparring matches are little more than bouts of shoving, which assist in confirming rank in the social hierarchy. At the end of many of these bouts a clear winner is not apparent. The two combatants will leisurely stop sparring and begin to browse together as if nothing has occurred. This type of sparring is usually terminated by the arrival of the breeding season.

A similar yet unmistakably different battle takes place between bucks during the rut. The fight begins in much the same manner, but now both animals have hardened, polished antlers and deep seated motives, altering the fighting conditions and stakes for both deer. Bucks are fighting now for territory and dominance, but a different twist raises the stakes: the right to breed the doe(s) in this area. Normally the two bucks exchange threatening glances and at times a sidling, circling and stiff-legged walk, which is followed by a clashing and pushing done with the antlers until the larger or more aggressive buck gains the upper hand. Bucks seldom fight with members of their own group, but occasionally a younger buck will get ambitious or a transient buck will pass through. These battles can be brief or can last for several minutes, depending upon how evenly matched the two deer are. Occasionally the two bucks will lock antlers resulting in the death of both deer. These cases are the exception rather than the usual, since this situation largely requires mature bucks existing in herds with a tight buck/doe ratio. Competition for does is greater in this situation than in a typical deer herd in Mississippi.

*edit from me for clarity: death may occur from the bucks being so tangled that they cannot separate, thus starving. This is rare.
The reason for the hornsKristin
Jan 15, 2003 10:52 AM
The only thing at risk from those "horns" are other boy deers. And he would only use them around you if he wanted to have his way with you but first wanted to fight off another boy deer who also wanted to have his way with you. If that ever happens, my suggestion. Run very fast.
I doubt you'll have that problemColnagoFE
Jan 15, 2003 7:43 AM
Deer are not aggressive. They pose the biggest problem when going down a steep hill...sometimes they dart out in front of you and that can be bad news.
I only hunt two-legged, red-haired deer ;) nmSpunout
Jan 15, 2003 7:48 AM
and dear what is wrong with blond and brunet?? 8-P nmcyclopathic
Jan 15, 2003 8:33 AM
re: Deer: A Hazard for Cyclists?PEDDLEFOOT
Jan 15, 2003 7:54 AM
I usually run across deer on my morning rides through a forest preserve near my house.I have never had a deer be agressive towards me but I have had a few close calls when they've run in front of me.

I have been told by a friend who hunts that bucks do get aggresive during their mateing season and have been known to attack .

I have found that if you yell at them and create some movement they will run away.Try swerving side to side and yelling when approaching them.It may seem a little strange at first but it always works for me.
We deal with them here all the timejtolleson
Jan 15, 2003 8:06 AM
and they are totally skittish and human avoidant. No risk of aggressive behavior (the ones that are so domesticated that they aren't skittish do nothing more aggressive than look for a handout).

As noted above, the biggest risk is, in fact, their skittishness. We see them every week on our afterwork Lookout Mt club ride and call them out on the descent. They can and will dart in unexpected directions, including across the road. That's really the main and only risk presented by deer, and I do know one rider who has hit one.
See them on the W&OD all the timepmf1
Jan 15, 2003 8:18 AM
I've had a few close calls when they ran out right in front of me (I'm talking a few feet in front of me). As far as them attacking you like some scroungy farm mutt, forget it, they don't think like that.

If I knew some were near the path, I would slow down just in case they suddenly decided they wanted to be on the other side of the path.
re: Deer: A Hazard for Cyclists?ms
Jan 15, 2003 8:45 AM
Deer frequetly run across one of my favorite cycling roads. As noted above, the biggest hazard is that they are skittish and may run into you inadvertently. Once, I came upon several deer standing on the road ahead of me with the wind blowing toward me. They did not or could not hear my bike and stood still. Finally, as I got closer, I slowed down and began making noise (i.e., barking, if you have to know). They quickly dispersed. In my years of deer encounters on a bike, I never have encountered a deer that wanted to attack.
I wouldn't be worriedScot_Gore
Jan 15, 2003 8:58 AM
On my normal AM route, it's more uncommon not to see deer than to see them. I've never had a close call on the bike (I've taken out three with the car in 25 years of driving).

Honestly, I would worry more about a group than a solidtary buck. They're herd animals, when one takes off, they all go. I sometimes find myself looking around for the unseen friends when I see one take off. It's the hidden ones that might come bounding across the trail to join her fleeing friend that I think pose the biggest danger.

Otherwise enjoy them, they are beautiful.

Deer are pretty dumbMR_GRUMPY
Jan 15, 2003 9:06 AM
I've encountered them off road and on road, and usually the worst thing that could happen would be to crash into them while they are crossing in front of you. I guess it's possible to run into a horny deer who thinks that you are challanging him. If that happens, good luck.
re: Deer: A Hazard for Cyclists?koala
Jan 15, 2003 9:15 AM
My run in with a big buck entailed me climbing a steep grade and him stopping right in front of me. We stared at each other, I came to a halt and unclipped. He then ran away. If I was on a flat and motoring it would have hurt like hell to hit an animal that big. I think running into him is your biggest danger.
Thanks! Very helpful advicecommuterguy
Jan 15, 2003 9:37 AM
Thanks to all who shared their experiences/advice. I don't think I will take up hunting anytime soon, but I may practice barking. Good tip also about the herd behavior--that is exactly what has happened to me with the non-antlered variety.
Deer + Cyclist = Dangermikebikr
Jan 15, 2003 10:22 AM
But not from the antlers. More likely scenario is you run into one or visa-versa. Like a car. We don't make as much noise as a car does. I think a deer took out a whole pro team training for the Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh some time ago. Anyone have info on that? I also beleive that the ultra endurance mountain biker John Stamstad ran into one and broke some ribs.

LOL - no, they are docile creaturesKristin
Jan 15, 2003 10:50 AM
He was was way more scared of you than you were of him. Well, perhaps that's not entirely true; but he was at least able to get away better than you were. Cows have horns. Deers have antlers. Antlers = boy deer, just like horns = boy cow.
Happened to an RBR Poster...PsyDoc
Jan 15, 2003 10:56 AM
philg "Your broken clavicle stories, please" 4/4/01 6:17am

Posted by: philg Apr-04-01, 06:17 AM

Okay, I hit a deer whilst out riding my road bike one sunday morning last June. BIG impact, flew through the air, landed hard on my left shoulder (hole in my jersey to prove it) and skidded along on my left side and finished up spead-eagled in the middle of a very quite country lane. At first couldn't breath plus pain all over, so sat at the side of the road and recovered my composure. Eventually rescued, went to hospital. Immediatly diagnosed broken collarbone, LOTS of road rash and punctured lung caused by broken rib.

To cut a long story short, the rib was easily the most painful bit, couldn't move for a week. Collarbone didn't give much trouble. Was riding turbo trainer after 2 weeks, and was back on the road 4 weeks after injury with no problems. Did first race, a crit, 7 weeks after injury, not sure I'd fancy an mtb race though! Secret is, I think, lots of rest early on, don't try and do a thing.

Good luck.
Hit a deer in 1982, on my bikeAlexx
Jan 15, 2003 1:36 PM
I was riding home at about 10:30-11:00 p.m., down a fairly busy road with wide shoulders. There were strret lights most of the way home, but they ended at the town line. I still had 3 miles to go, no light, no helmet (hey, it was 1982, and I was coming home from work). I was drafting behind a bus, going down a steep hill, with brush on either side of the road. Suddenly, a fairly large white-tail deer jumps out, just as the bus passes. She sees me just as I see her, and we collide at about 25-30 mph. Luckily, it was a glancing blow, and I manage to keep upright, but ron myself off into the opposite shoulder, and dump the bike in the gravel. Slight scrape, nothing more, but I could still smell that deer on my clothes all the way home.
Local rider permanently injured by deer . . .Look381i
Jan 16, 2003 3:36 AM
It bounded out of the woods and hit this (very strong) rider broadside, knocking him out and down. He lay in the ditch for several hours before being noticed by a motorist. That was fifteen years ago. After back operations and therapy, he still has occasional disabling back spasms.

As has been noted, deer are amazingly stupid, moved very fast and unpredictably. They won't attack, but they can be dangerous. My daughter and wife have had deer run into their cars (on the side and front). That sort of accident is almost daily occurrence in our region certain times of the year.
Beware, those suckers can bitefunknuggets
Jan 16, 2003 9:30 AM
Local Cyclist Injured after Scrape with Deer

A local cyclist, was injured while riding along RR 13. After seeing a deer hit by a truck, he stopped to see if the deer was still alive. Stopping to reach down and check the deer's jugular vein for a pulse, the deer then bit the rider in the right ankle. The cyclist was later treated and released in Edwardsville. The deer was put to sleep by local sheriffs department.