I was in a group ride of 10-12 bikes yesterday morning. About 2 miles into our trip, a deer leapt over the guardrail into the path of the lead bike. He had no time to maneuver and struck the broad side of the deer at about 40MPH. His passenger was thrown from the bike. He managed to stay on and ride the bike to a stop (amazingly!!), but discovered that his right ankle had a compound fracture. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery, and thanks to the county police and medical workers.
It's hard to even think about animals when we ride, but they're out there. Plus, they're pretty damned stupid, when you come right down to it. They're not always smart enough to avoid an active roadway. This was an odd time for deer to be out, too...it was about 11AM. Usually the deer are moving from dusk to dawn.
I've seen several groundhogs and rabbits lately. The young don't know about the road yet and sometimes sprint out. If it's something small, the best thing to do is hold your line and let it get out of the way...don't try to guess what it's doing. Bigger things are best to try to swerve around, in most cases.
What I see a lot of these days is turtles...who as long as I'm not on a blind section of road, I will pick up and help across. :)
I know a lot of riders feel like helmets and safety gear are restrictive, but remember, it's not always your fault if you go down. This was a freak accident yesterday. Suddenly a deer was someplace where a deer was not before. The side of the road was all underbrush...there was no seeing it until it made its move. A patch of gravel or a pothole you can scout for ahead of time. Animals move...there's no guarantee what you see this time is going to be the same next time.
The best thing you can do is suit up. It's cheap insurance. I can guarantee that if the passenger had not been wearing a helmet, she would've had a concussion or worse. She managed to get off with just an ankle sprain. The rider was wearing protective boots, but they were street boots, not true race gear like the Sidi Vertigos I now prefer. I'm glad I have those now...I don't know if even that would've saved my legs hitting a spinning deer at 40MPH, but the better chance I can give myself...
Stay safe out there.