Slow down this month

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

It’s hard to be­lieve that it’s al­ready Novem­ber.

I re­mem­ber the giddy feel­ing that came over me back in April when we got those first few days of 2016 that were gen­uinely warm. And now, sev- en months have pretty much flown by and it’ll be time to fall back with day­light sav­ings this week­end.

Over the last cou­ple days I’ve been think­ing about the ex­tra fish­ing trips that were planned in my head but never quite made it into re­al­ity. Where did the time go?

Day­light sav­ings of­fi­cially starts at 2 a.m. Sun­day and it is in­deed a good re­minder each year to check the bat­ter­ies in the smoke de­tec­tors in your house. Bat­ter­ies should be changed at least once a year. And check the date of man­u­fac­ture on your alarms.

Alarms should be com­pletely re­placed ev­ery 10 years. Ac­cord­ing to FEMA, the risk of dy­ing in a home fire is cut in half in homes with work­ing smoke alarms. That’s a good

rea­son to get out the step­stool this week­end.

Get­ting that ex­tra hour on the week­end makes me feel a lit­tle bit like be­ing a kid on Christ­mas morn­ing. What will you do with that ex­tra hour?

Here’s a sug­ges­tion: get out­doors and do some­thing as a fam­ily. An early morn­ing fish­ing trip comes to mind. With the time change, it won’t feel quite so early. A bike ride or hike to check out the fall fo­liage is also a good idea. What­ever you do, make sure you get the kids out­side, too.

Af­ter the time change, the sun is go­ing to set be­fore most of us get home from work and a big chunk of our play­time is go­ing to van­ish. Once the kids get done with their home­work,

there won’t be any day­light left for a game of ball or a brief stroll af­ter din­ner. Sun­sets that used to take place af­ter 6 p.m. will now start hap­pen­ing be­fore 5. And they’ll just keep get­ting ear­lier and ear­lier un­til the winter sol­stice.

The time change means many com­muters will spend more time driv­ing in the dark for the next few weeks. Those com­mutes can be es­pe­cially haz­ardous this time of year be­cause Novem­ber hap­pens to be the peak breed­ing sea­son for white-tailed deer in our re­gion.

Deer are nor­mally cau­tious an­i­mals that re­treat at the slight­est sounds or dis­tur­bances. But dur­ing the breed­ing sea­son, also known as the rut, deer have one-track minds and right now safety is not their num­ber one pri­or­ity.

That’s why driv­ers need to make it theirs. Mary­land’s deer pop­u­la­tion is es­ti­mated to be over 200,000 an­i­mals. Coun­try roads aren’t the only place to be on the look­out for deer. There are col­li­sions ev­ery year within the city lim­its of Prince Fred­er­ick, Wal­dorf, La Plata and Lex­ing­ton Park. It’s im­por­tant to be vig­i­lant wher­ever you drive this time of year.

Deer are most ac­tive at dawn and dusk. But this time of year, it’s not un­com­mon to see deer out in the open dur­ing the day­time. Bucks are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a

surge of hor­mones that com­pel them to track down oblig­ing does. And busy road­ways will not de­ter them.

When you’re out driv­ing this month, take ex­tra pre­cau­tions to stay safe. If you think you see a deer in the road­way

ahead of you, slow down. They of­ten travel in groups and oth­ers may be nearby.

If a doe is cross­ing the road, one or more bucks may be close on her hooves. And deer have been known to jump right into the path of an on­com­ing car. Honk­ing of­ten scares them off, but if your head­lights are on, deer can get dis­ori­ented and move er­rat­i­cally. If one

does get in front of your car, don’t swerve. You could lose con­trol of your ve­hi­cle and hit some­thing more se­ri­ous like a tree or an­other car.

And don’t rely on a deer whis­tle. Those gim­micks haven’t been proven to make deer be­have any dif­fer­ently. Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia re­cently con­cluded that they aren’t ef­fec­tive at all.

Save your money and just slow down.

I can tell you from ex­pe­ri­ence, col­li­sions with deer are costly and a real has­sle. I used to leave for work well be­fore dawn, and even though I kept a watch­ful eye on the road ahead of me, I’ve had two en­coun­ters with deer I wish I could have avoided. Pay­ing the de­ductible and rent­ing a car twice was

enough to make me never want to see a deer on the side of the road again.

But the deer are out there, and it’s up to us to ex­er­cise some cau­tion while driv­ing these next few weeks as the deer re­spond to Mother Na­ture’s com­mand to go forth and pro­cre­ate. They won’t be watch­ing for us, so we’ve got to watch out for them.

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