Orangeburg is the leading county in the state for taking trophy deer. The record books from around the region are ample evidence we are blessed with an abundance of whitetails.

Perhaps you have seen more deer on the roads around South Carolina recently. Deer season runs from August through December and there’s a dramatic increase in the movement of the deer population during this time of year, when the animals are mating and migrating. As a result, your chances of being in a deer-vehicle collision become greater.

Studies show that about 45 percent of deer-vehicle collisions occur in roughly a 60-day period that corresponds with the deer-breeding season. In South Carolina, “rut” is generally during the months of October and November.

But statistics show the risk of a deer-vehicle crash has grown overall.

The number of such collisions in the United States has increased by 7.7 percent over the last year. The jump comes after a three-year period that saw crashes drop 2.2 percent.

Reported deer-vehicle collisions in the Palmetto State have averaged about 2,200 the last few years, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety.

S.C. drivers faced a 1-in-126 chance of hitting a deer during the period of July 2011 to June 2012. The risk was 1 in 133 to S.C. motorists over the previous period. South Carolina ranks 18th in overall likelihood of a vehicle-deer collision in comparison to other states.

Motorists should understand that deer-crossing signs – diamond-shaped signs bearing the silhouette of a deer – mark a stretch of road where deer have been hit previously; however, these signs do not mark specific deer trails. Deer may frequently cross for several miles where the signs are posted.

Also, most vehicle collisions occur near sun-up and sun-down because deer tend to move more during these times. Unfortunately, these are also the times that most humans commute to work in their vehicles.

South Carolina’s deer population peaked in the mid-1990s, as did the number of deer-vehicle collisions. Efforts by hunters have reduced the population since 2000 and the statewide total is estimated to be about 25 percent less now than 10 years ago, a positive development according to SCDNR.

Be aware and stay alert.