By MIKE CORN
OBERLIN -- Decatur County doesn't have any magic formula to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents involving deer.
Instead, according to Decatur County Sheriff Ken Badsky, the sharp reduction in accidents last year is simply a result of paperwork.
Or more precisely, less of it.
In the case of accidents involving motor vehicles with liability insurance only, there's no one requesting copies of the accident report, Badsky said.
A new accident reporting system expanded the forms from two pages taking about 30 minutes to complete to six pages and more than an hour, depending on the accident.
"There's only three of us up here and we've got more important things to do," Badsky said.
That doesn't mean, however, the rate of accidents is declining.
Statistics from the Kansas Department of Transportation, however, show they are, if only slightly.
Statewide, accidents involving deer dropped slightly, down to 9,127 in 2010 from 9,629 a year earlier.
This is the peak time for deer-related accidents, brought about primarily because of the animals' drive to reproduce.
During rut, deer focus only on mating, traveling longer distances to find a mate, and they don't pay much attention to their surroundings.
Fall harvest sometimes can be a factor as well, as deer move into other areas seeking cover.
In northwest Kansas, deer accidents account for a massive proportion of accidents.
In Rush County, for example, deer accidents accounted for 65 percent of the 126 accidents reported there in 2010. That's up, both in terms of total accidents and the rate of accidents involving deer.
Osborne County is another one with a high incidence of deer-related accidents, about 62 percent last year. Graham is the same, with 68 percent of its accidents caused by deer.
In both Osborne and Graham counties, however, they generally have a high percentage of accidents caused by deer.
Smith County is another one that saw accidents decline, down in 2010 to less than half its accidents caused by deer. In 2009, about 60 percent of the accidents were caused by deer.
The chances of hitting a deer in Kansas are up slightly to one in 172.12, according to an analysis by State Farm Insurance. That's slightly below average, but well below West Virginia, where there's a one in 42 chance of hitting a deer.
Each accident, that analysis suggests, results in average property damage of $3,103, up only slightly from last year.
Kansas has the fourth highest rate of accidents in the 19 states where American Family Insurance operates.
Its policy holders reported 2,366 accidents in 2010, accounting for $6.7 million in damages. American Family estimates its average claim is $2,613.
November is the most likely time for deer-related accidents to occur, according to the State Farm analysis. More than 18 percent of the accidents occur in November.
"I help my cousin pick corn," Badsky said. "There's not a shortage of deer."