They say if you have never hit a deer in Montana, just wait. You probably will. Montana is consistently ranked as one of top states to hit a deer. 2018 data indicated we were #2 and  insurance companies say you have a 1 in 57 chance of hitting a deer with your vehicle. Of course, you can legally keep roadkill to eat if you wish. All you need is a permit from MT FW&P. A highway patrolman can issue you the permit or you can get one online.

I almost hit two different groups of deer when I was coming into work last week. Granted, I put myself in a high deer risk situation. It was just after 8 AM, sunrising on River Road between Laurel and Duck Creek. This area is full of deer and they were active that morning. Two different groups of three or four deer leaped right out on the road a few miles apart. Luckily, I  was able to avoid a deer collision. That got me wondering what roads in Montana are you most likely to hit a deer?

Finding hard data on which highways across Montana have the most car vs. deer incidents proved difficult. I poked around the Montana Department of Transportation site and searched Montana.gov, hoping to find a simple report with a title like, "Montana Highways With Most Deer Collisions." No luck. Surely, someone has that data? How else do they decide where to put "Deer Crossing" signs? Anyway, here is my very unscientific list of most deer collision roads in south central Montana.

  • Highway 78 Between Columbus and Absarokee. Deer like areas with shelter, food and water and this stretch of highway has all three in abundance.
  • Highway 87 Between Billing and Roundup. This section of the highway is chock full of deer and antelope, especially the closer you get to Roundup. Roundup to Lewistown is also a deer filled area. I've had numerous close calls on that highway.
  • Highway 212 Laurel to Red Lodge. While the new portion of the highway is better for traffic, it doesn't seem to help much with deer incidents. Lots of food and cover for deer mean lots of them on the road, especially at dusk and dawn.
  • Highway 212 Lame Deer to Broadus. This "shortcut" is tempting when traveling to South Dakota. You can save a few minutes and miles IF you don't get stuck behind a slow-moving motorhome or semi and IF you don't hit a deer. The last couple of times we traveled that direction, we just stayed on the interstate.

Some folks swear that deer whistles help prevent car/deer collisions. Science says they don't work. Here are some driving tips from Big Sky Collision center on how to avoid hitting a deer.