Just before dawn, on a road near Lake Thunderbird, Micah Holmes was driving to work one morning last month when two deer leapt into the path of his car.
Holmes, a spokesman at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, knows not to swerve and lose control of a vehicle when deer appear.
He hit the smallest one, a yearling, as the larger one bounded off. The deer didn't live, but Holmes was not injured and the car just sustained damage to a headlight. It could have been worse.
November is the peak time for deer activity. Their mating season coincides with more traffic at dusk and dawn during morning and evening rush hours.
Bucks are running after does, not thinking of traffic, and the animals frequently run across roads. Deer are active all day during rutting season, and not just during twilight hours.
Most deer and vehicle collisions happened before sunrise and just after dusk. There are hundreds of crashes with deer each year, with many resulting in injuries, including some fatalities. The most recent statistics available from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office were in 2011 when 184 injuries and two fatalities occurred in 467 deer-vehicle crashes reported to the office.
Holmes had his seat belt on when he hit the deer.
“I was fine,” Holmes said. “But it makes you really aware it can happen just like that. Be aware.”
Some ways to lessen the chances of deer collisions are to slow down in areas with wildlife. Deer season in Oklahoma for hunting with guns is November.
Wear seat belts and stay alert, scanning the road and shoulders ahead of you with high beam headlights when there's no oncoming traffic.
But if a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and stay in your lane, Holmes said.
Hunting season is another time of year to watch out for deer.
• The archery deer season runs from Oct. 1 through Jan. 15.
• The muzzleloading season opens on the fourth Saturday in October and runs for nine days.
• The deer gun season opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving and runs for 16 days.