ROADKILL and the RUT

Hunters are a different breed of people in the modern world and can view various aspects of life from a much different perspective than those that don’t view the natural world as a provider of both refreshing disconnected entertainment and a source of food.  With that skewed view that is different from 95 percent of the population, I have taken some data that I have access to and will apply it to hunting in an interesting way that may have not been presented to you in the past. This will be an evaluation of roadkill numbers and how it relates to the rut.

I have charted the number of car crashes in a small city in central North Carolina that were coded as “Animal” and what is interesting is how it shows a relation to the Rut.  Because of the limitations of data available I would gather that some of the reports are not deer but you can assume most reported are deer because of the damage to a vehicle they will cause and that a report is required for insurance purposes.  I also cannot confirm whether it is a doe or buck but in this case it simply shows an increase of wildlife activity.

I have taken 9 years of crash reports and graphed it below.  For the 99 Animal related crashes, it shows a decline in roadkill from January and February through September but then sharply rises from October through December.  Of course if you know when the rut is from years of hunting or reading thousands of other articles you already know this but hopefully you appreciate the data.

Additionally I have broken down the months with more than 10 animal related crashes into what group of days they occurred in the month below. These groups being the 1st – 10th, the 11th – 21st and the 22nd – 31st.  These animal crashes totaled 57.

We can see several things from the 57 Animal Related Crashes from October through December.

  • October shows the most activity in the last part of the month
  • November is pretty consistent throughout the month
  • December has higher activity at the beginning and middle of the month but drops off toward the end.
Animal Crashes By Dates with October, November and December

I have also taken the times associated with these crashes and split them into quadrants  of 6 hours and graphed them accordingly below.  This will show that most of these crashes occur during non-shooting light.

Crashes by Time

Beyond that graph I have broken the numbers down again into these shooting times: 

  • 6AM through 9AM
  • 9AM  through 4PM
  • 4PM through 7PM

 

You can see that in October it doesn’t really make much of a difference what time of day it was, the 9 year data has them about equal for activity.  November does show more activity in the morning and evening shooting light but still had some activity at midday.  December sharply increases toward the evening time but at this time of year, it is darker much earlier and this may come into play with fudging these numbers higher.  Shooting light also varies in the morning and should be considered.

Animal Crashes in Shooting Light

What does all this data say?

The overall data shows that deer seem to get more careless with their surroundings around the rut and happen to put themselves in front of cars and trucks going down the road.  It also seems to show a sweet spot of deer activity from late October to mid-December which again, is centered around the Rut.

As far as shooting time activity, if you can’t hunt all day or both morning and afternoon, the morning seems more productive for careless deer activity during October and November where in December, the afternoon may prove to be a better time.

How does it help you?  

This general information probably rings true in most of the whitetail world unless there are special circumstances that are already known to alter regular deer behavior and breeding periods . 

If you really wanted to analyze your own local information you could call your local police or sheriff department and ask if they would provide you with a spreadsheet of animal related crashes that you can sort and graph all you want.  Some departments will have someone like me that would LOVE to extract the data for you.  Or, ask one of your local police officers if they can have their records department extract the data, many of them are hunters and would be interested in the results.

It would be a safe bet that as you enter into the season of the rut and you begin to see more dead deer on the roadway that you need to be in the woods.

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