CLEVELAND (WJW)– Now is the time of year Ohio drivers need to be on high alert for deer.

The Buckeye State is home to roughly 700,000 whitetail deer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

These deer are active around the clock, but are mostly on the move at dawn and dusk. That can pose a hazard to people when driving to and from work. Mating season, which begins in mid-October, increases the risk. ODNR said drivers should pay special attention October through December in areas with deer crossing signs. Roughly half of Ohio’s deer-related crashes happened in those months, according to a news release from AAA.

Deer crossing road sign along highway
(Getty Images)

AAA offers the following tips to avoid hitting animals:

  • Scan the road ahead to give you enough time to react. Remember, if you see one deer, there are likely more in the area.
  • Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic.
  • Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk.
  • If a collision is unavoidable, hit the breaks firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal can cause a more serious crash or cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and remain alert.

Experts also recommend honking and said don’t rely on deer whistles.

If you do hit a deer, call the police, avoid making contact with the animal, activate your vehicle’s hazard lights, move your vehicle to a safe location if possible and contact your insurance company.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources works to control the whitetail deer population with designated hunting seasons. Youth gun weekend for deer is Nov. 20 and Nov. 21. Gun season runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, and Dec. 18 and Dec. 19. While most Ohio counties have a two or three-deer limit, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas and Summit allow up to four deer per hunter with proper permit.

More than 197,000 deer were harvested during the 2020 to 2021 season.

“The gun season weather that we had last year is going to be difficult to repeat and the COVID situation that encouraged hunter participation last is also going to make things a little difficult. But not saying our hunters aren’t up for a challenge,” said Mike Tonkovich, deer program administrator for ODNR.