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On my last bike ride I was riding on a trail and I was going pretty fast, fast enough that I went around a corner really fast and there was a doe right in front of me. I stopped as fast as I could. We both looked at each other and it looked more scared than I was. I was looking around to make sure there wasn't a buck near by. If it was a buck I had run into, it would have been more likely to attack me. So now my question is, what should I do if I run into a buck? Should I bring anything to protect myself that won't kill the animal? Pepper spray perhaps?

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Would you prefer the answer be limited to encounters on a bike, or not? –  Russell Steen Jun 13 '12 at 22:48
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No at anytime, hiking, biking, driving whatever it may be –  John Jun 14 '12 at 4:45
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Specifically for biking, they do make spray cans to keep dangerous animals away. Most of my experience with these products have been dealing with loose dogs. I would think it could be used for an animal the size of a buck, but obviously more research than my word should be taken there.

Dog repellent
Larger animal (bear) repellent

I haven't seen any spray specifically for deer. There are ultrasonic deer repellers for cars, not sure how that would work.

Personally I don't use any of the things I mentioned because it has never been an issue for me. I have had many similar experiences of running into deer on a mountain biking trail. Usually they stare for awhile and then run off. Very rarely I have tossed rocks/sticks in their general direction and that worked to scare them off.

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Thank you, I actually saw another doe today on another bike ride. I'm likely to see a buck sometime in the future and I think ill keep some spray attached to my bike just to be safe. Thanks for the answer! –  John Jun 15 '12 at 0:13
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From everything I've seen and heard, a doe is likely more dangerous than a buck. Deer in general are quite skittish, and bucks usually more so than the doe. I think generally the only reason one would attack you is if you separated a doe from its fawn and the deer attacked to protect its baby.

I have heard of a couple goreings in Yosemite, but I think most attacks are doe perpetrated.

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For most deer, especially during the rut, bucks can be very dangerous, much more so than does. I have hunted with people who spent weeks in the hospital after being trampled, stomped, and gored by an angry buck. I've never seen a doe, even with a fawn, do anything but run. Perhaps if you cornered it with literally no way out a doe would attack, but does are not generally hostile. Bucks do generally avoid hunters more but that's a function of hunting pressure. My experience is that deer are pretty good at knowing the difference between someone hunting vs. someone out for a stroll. –  Russell Steen Jun 16 '12 at 1:37
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Time of year is very important

  • Bucks don't keep their antlers year round. They grow towards the fall and drop in earlyish spring. This time of year, if you did not lift the tail and check, it may have been a buck.
  • Outside of mating season, you probably have zero concern. No antlers, no worry.
  • During mating season bucks can be VERY territorial. However, it's just for mating. If you turn and run they are not likely to chase you down.
  • Unless it's rabid, it's not going to just attack. It's going to do all the mating posturing. You should have time to flee.
  • If you are really worried, then as JustinC said you an carry bear spray, however I would caution against antagonizing a rutting buck. The only people I've known who where injured by a buck, antagonized it. If you retreat you are signaling a weaker stance. If you attack you are signaling "I'm stronger than you, bring it".

I'm assuming white tail deer. There are other deer, but generally people here mean white tails when they say deer. This should generalize to mule deer, but probably not to elk, moose, etc.

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+1 thank you, your post was very informative, i forgot that the antlers fall off bucks. I could have ran into a buck without even knowing it! –  John Jun 16 '12 at 2:52
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