If you've lived here long enough, chances are you've either hit an animal while driving or been in the car when someone else has. Sure, you may have hit the occasional confused squirrel or chipmunk who can't decide if they are coming or going but nothing compares to their more massive fellow wood dwellers.

Related: Which of Michigan's 83 Counties Has the Most Car / Deer Collisions?

Car/deer collisions are top of mind in Michigan, and that's how we let people know we care about them. If you are leaving a Michiganders home and one of the final things they say to you during the mandatory 20-minute goodbye (only counting the outdoor goodbye and not the required 20-minute indoor farewell) is:

Watch out for deer! Oh, and tell your mom I said hi!

That person cares deeply for you, and that's how we say "I love you" in Michigan.

Car deer collision in Michigan.

I asked my friend Jeff, who runs the service department at an auto dealership, to describe the sound and first thought that went through his mind when hitting his 3 least favorite Michigan road critters.

  1. Opossum: Like running over a flea-ridden furry cinderblock that hates your car and its undercarriage.
  2. Turkey Vulture: These aren't birds. They are bowling balls with feathers. Most of the time when you hit one of these you're left asking yourself if you were a victim of an attack or just happened upon a low flyer.
  3. Deer: In the rock-paper-scissors game of life, one would think car beats deer, but deer, in this case, is paper to car's rock. How does paper beat rock? How does a deer get nailed by a truck traveling at 60 mph and survive? Simple. A deer's will to live exceeds your transportation desire to remain fur and dent-free.
Car deer collision in Michigan.

Michigan is ranked 4th in the nation for insurance claims that involve animals. That means that there are 3 other states with even better odds! I know Jeff's driven in Florida, I wonder if he's hit a gator?

LOOK: Here are the states where you are most likely to hit an animal

Hitting an animal while driving is a frightening experience, and this list ranks all 50 states in order of the likelihood of such incidents happening, in addition to providing tips on how to avoid them.

Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn

Michigan Deer Season: Car v Deer, Which Kill More in Your County?

Between hunters and car-deer collisions, which one is responsible for thinning the herd more in your Michigan county? Using the Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer license sales from all seasons and crash data from MichiganTrafficCrashFacts.org, let's take a county-by-county look as we count down to the one with the most deer-involved crashes and compare that to the amount killed by hunters.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow