Dilemma: I Injured a Deer With My Car

You hit a deer with your vehicle, and it’s lying on the side of the road injured. Now what?

by posted on April 19, 2023
Deering Injuring Deer With Car

Getting into a vehicular accident involving a deer can be traumatic, but knowing what to do will help you manage what comes next. The first step is calling 9-1-1. They’ll dispatch an ambulance if anyone is hurt, and they’ll send out law enforcement, which might be police or a game warden, depending on where you are and who’s available. Wait for them to arrive even if you and your vehicle are in good shape. State law varies about the legality of driving away from the scene, but even in states where it’s legal to leave, you will want an official report taken by the authorities for the car insurance claim you’ll be making later.

In many locales, it can take a while for law enforcement to arrive. While you wait, in the unfortunate circumstance where the deer you hit is wounded but not dead, you might be considering dispatching it with your concealed carry firearm. Ending the animal’s suffering is, after all, the compassionate and humane thing to do.

This is where some advance preparation comes in clutch—you need to know your state’s laws before you take matters into your own hands. In some states it is legal for you to dispatch an animal wounded by a vehicle, but other states have laws against doing so. Many states allow you to keep the animal you have wounded, but most of them require a tag you must obtain from law enforcement. If your vehicle is in good shape and you don’t plan to make an insurance report, you can call the game warden or ask the 9-1-1 dispatcher if you may dispatch and keep the deer. You’ll often get a yes, with specific instructions on obtaining any necessary tags. Or, depending on state law, you might be required to wait for a law enforcement officer to dispatch the animal for you. Be aware that just hitting a deer and taking it home without informing anyone is considered poaching in some states.

If your state allows you to dispatch and claim, or if you get the go-ahead to dispatch the animal yourself from law enforcement, a head shot that connects with the brain or destroys the brain stem is the most humane. Use common sense and be aware of who else is around, and follow the rules of safe gun handling and shooting, including being sure of your target and what’s beyond it.

Incidentally, in many states it is legal for anyone to claim a road-killed deer they find by the roadside; some states require a permit. Take a minute to look up the laws in your state regarding what you may and may not do with an injured or road-killed deer so you’ll be prepared if you’re ever faced with this situation.




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