Editor’s Note: This post was authored by Troy Porter, J&P Cycles’ Iowa showroom supervisor and a hunting enthusiast. What he writes here could save your life this fall.

Autumn isn’t the least bit subtle here in Anamosa, Iowa. It comes on strong with a change in temperature, darker skies for the commute both ways, and of course the unbelievable colors presented by fall leaves. If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, you know that few things are as beautiful as an autumn ride through the rolling hills in Iowa. And a lot of us are taking full advantage of it.

Unfortunately, fall also spells the end of the riding season — damn you, Florida and California! But that bi-coastal resentment is not going to stop many of us from hitting the roadways as often as we can before winter sets in for good.

During these last rides of the year, we’ll be sharing the roadways with the whitetail deer. They’re a big part of the awesome scenery that we enjoy in the fall, and I’ve offered up a few tips that ensure we ride safely this time of year:

  • To start off with, it’s important that we stay alert and pay attention to our surroundings. For the most part, deer are nocturnal animals and are most active between 6 and 9 p.m. However, there are a number of factors that have them moving at other times, so it’s best to be alert at all times.
  • Look for posted deer crossing signs. These are helpful, but let’s face it: Deer can’t read and will pop up in the strangest places.
  • Use your high-beam headlamps and spot/passing lamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas where deer will most likely enter the roadway. You may only have one chance to see the green glow of their eyes as they run on to the road, so the more illumination, the better.
  • Keep in mind that deer usually travel in herds. If you see one, the chances are pretty good there will be another one nearby.
  • There are some products you can add to your motorcycle to get the deer to move off of the road — and we’ve got them here at J&P Cycles. But you should never rely on them exclusively to keep you safe. It’s always best to stay alert.

Keep in mind that November’s the month you’re most likely to have an encounter with a deer. The harvest will be nearing an end and much of the area that provided protection for these shy beasts will be gone. On top of that, they’ve got a full schedule of looking for food, protective cover and courting a mate. So they’re not paying attention to the road, either.

According to the last three years of crash database available through the Iowa Department of Transportation, there’s been a decline in fatalities where motorcyclists have collided with a deer. This is great news because you can bet there are just as many deer out there on the roads as three years ago. That indicates that we bikers are being safer and looking out for them. Keep this positive trend going and remain alert and safe this fall! Check your motorcycle headlights and motorcycle brakes are in working conditions this fall, to keep you and our four-legged friends safe.