There were more than 3,600 car accidents involving deer last year in Missouri that left 333 people injured and five people dead.

In Missouri there’s an accident involving a deer about every two and a half hours. Captain Tim Hull with the State Highway Patrol says that figure’s likely higher this time of year.

“October through December, the majority of deer strikes occur during that time period. The time of day is usually about 5:00 pm through about 7:00 am the next morning. That’s when deer are moving, it’s dark, and they can have the darkness for cover,” Hull said.

Hull says it’s something you need to look out for everywhere you drive.

“Last year, 28% of the crashes involving deer happened in urban areas. So while most of the accidents occur in the rural areas, there’s still a large percentage that occur in the urban areas where the deer travel between wooded areas inside that city. So be cautions of that too as you travel,” Hull said.

He says even if it looks like a deer is out the path of your car, you need to be especially careful.

“You see one deer, we remind people to slow down because there’s probably another deer very close by because a lot of time they travel in groups. Just proceed with caution,” Hull said.

If it looks like the deer is not going to move out of the way of your vehicle, Hull says you need to fight your instinct to swerve.

“The best thing to do is steer straight and just slow down as much as possible. We have experienced where people try to avoid the deer, they go off the road one side or the other and there’s a lot more damage to the vehicle and a lot more opportunity for the passengers and driver to be injured or killed. If they go off the roadway and strike a tree, overturn, or hit some other object or oncoming car,” Hull said.

As gun deer season started over the weekend, deer will be driven out of their natural habitats as they try to get away from hunters, and may show up on the road instead.

Hull says the deer walking patterns also may be even more unusual this year because more agricultural fields have been harvested than in years past. He says that’s eliminated some of the food and cover deer used to rely on.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]