Deer hunters already are in the woods and the corn is coming out of the fields.  The Highway Patrol says that means motorists need to step up their vigilance.

We’re already more than two weeks into the first deer hunting season.  Bow hunters have taken the first deer of the fall.  Missouri also is about one-third of the way through the corn harvest season, which takes away food and hiding places for deer, all of which means the herd is starting to move around and some of the deer will end up on roads and streets.

Highway Patrol spokesman John Hotz says many motorist injuries happen when drivers over-react to seeing a deer.   Hard as it might be to do, it’s better just to hit the animal.

“We do see people that try to jerk one way or another, one side or another, leaving the roadway, overturning [or] striking another vehicle,” he says.  In 99.9% of the incidents in which a deer is hit, he says, the vehicle is damaged but the driver is unhurt.   Hotz also suggests motorists don’t jam on the brakes.  He says that causes the car’s nose to dive, increasing chances the deer will roll up on the hood.

The Patrol says deer and vehicles tried to occupy the same space almost 3,500 times last year.  No drivers were killed.  About 300 motorists were hurt, often because they crashed while trying to avoid hitting the deer.

AUDIO: Hotz interview 6:41