Friday, February 5, 2010

Freeing A Deer

I may have solidified my hunter/wild animal handler reputation today. I was at school on Geruma when I heard about a deer. Some teachers were going to see him so I joined along. When we got there, though, it was not a pretty scene.

It was a buck that got his antlers caught in some netting meant to serve as a crude fence against the deer. He'd managed to wrap the netting around his antlers and neck enough that escape wasn't going to happen and death by suffocation was approaching. The buck was in panic mode and was freaking out.

I was surprised that nobody else saw the situation the same as me - I thought "rescue", they thought "let's get out of here." I plead my case to the vice-principal, citing my work on a cattle ranch in Montana as the experience necessary to work with this deer. The VP said "cowboy?" to which I responded "yes!" because it seemed like the right answer. So he gave me some rope and we went back together. I made crude lariats and we attempted, from opposite sides of the deer, to get him to step in our slipknot circles. I succeeded first in catching a leg, at which point I pulled hard and knocked the deer off his feet. I quickly tied his rear legs together to try to control the kicking, then tied a front leg to the rear to immobilize him. But this meant that he'd lost the elevation which had previously kept him from strangling. Luckily the VP had a knife so I set out going at the thrashing deer's neck with a knife trying not to kill him. Eventually I freed up his wind pipe then went back to tying him up. (The vice-principal insisted on not letting the deer free at this point because he wanted the whole school to see the situation. I wasn't really a fan of this but I kept it to myself.)

After getting the deer securely bound I wrapped my jacket around his head to cover his eyes and hopefully get him to relax. Then we went back to school for lunch and cleaning. After 1.5 hours I finally got the okay to go back and release him (four students went to see the deer, but left before the release).

The VP trimmed all the net from his antlers while I worked on freeing his legs. I expected this to be dangerous, but I was able to contain his legs with relative ease.

The release was actually a bit anticlimactic. He jumped up and tried to sprint, but his bearings were all whacked out and he only went a couple meters before collapsing again. He didn't get far before realizing he was best-served resting first. I knew this was an important stage of what must be a very stressful ordeal for this deer, so I hurried the teachers along to give him alone time.

After my fifth period class the VP reported that the deer was not doing well and he expected him to die. I was pretty disappointed, but not sure if I was surprised. I took one last trip over before I had to catch my boat. The deer was still laying down and obviously alive, so I approached to see what was up. Turns out he had thrashed around some and got his rear legs intertwined in even more loose netting - to the point that he couldn't stand up! So I untangled him and got him standing again. He still acted drunk so I backed off enough that he could just stand there without also trying to get away from me. When I left he had sat back down, but he had his head up and looked alert to me. I expect that if he didn't get much more disruption that he'll survive.


Saxtor said...

I would think that being in that close of proximity to an antlered, hoofed animal would be rather harrowing and quite different from the experience of hunting. How approachable was he on his second entanglement? I certainly wish him the best. Poor guy.

Dave said...

He was so worn out from the first 6(plus??) hours of being stuck that when I came to him the second time he just watched me as I untangled him. I'd like to think he knew I was working on his behalf, but I am not sure I believe that animals think that way. Yeah.. I hope he made it. Not sure if I'll ever find out.

Anonymous said...





Melody said...

I might actually have a few tears over this story.. Poor guy, I'm glad you were there to rescue him.

Dave said...

Anonymous, I missed you! Where have you been? It's so lonely in here without you. Please stay.

p.s. I love you, too.

Dave said...

I got word today that the deer [probably] survived! He was seen wobbling though the village later that evening as he made his way back to the forest.