Hunting is about much more than the hunt and the harvest—it’s a lifestyle that permeates much of what you do throughout the entire year. There’s a charge of stewardship that goes …
Hunting is about much more than the hunt and the harvest—it’s a lifestyle that permeates much of what you do throughout the entire year. There’s a charge of stewardship that goes along with the responsibility and privilege of hunting. Some of this comes from expected tasks like clearing brush, planting forage and food plots, managing invasive species, and simply maintaining a balance of natural health in the ecosystems we rely on to provide us with nourishment. Sure, it’s not exactly farming, and not everyone does this to the same extent, but every little bit helps to conserve the way of life we so enjoy.
On some occasions however, a unique opportunity arises in the spur-of-the-moment, and I consider it our duty as hunters to aid as best we can. This past Wednesday, I was leaving the Manchester Sewer and Water Association office on Route 191 when I came across someone parked across the driveway. She pulled to the side but motioned to speak to me. Apparently, she had just driven up the hill from Equinunk where another woman was attempting to free a whitetail deer from its entanglement under a guard rail. She wanted to ask whom I thought she should call, the fire department or the police. I assured her that I would go myself to see what could be done. I drove down the hill until I saw several vehicles stopped with their flashers on. Fortunately, there was a pull-off right there, so I tucked my car away from the road and stepped out to survey the situation. Sure enough, there lay a four-point buck, maybe two- or three-years old if I had to guess, with his hips pinned sideways underneath the guard rail. The woman who apparently found the scene was standing behind the deer with the guard rail between her and the deer’s head. Another man stood by who had apparently been trying to pull the deer from under the rail with no success. Upon conferring with him, he openly shared his leeriness of approaching the young buck’s front, having been bitten in the pant leg already.
Now to be perfectly clear. If you are not comfortable helping in a situation like this, I encourage you not to do so. Deer can be very dangerous in situations like these. In their fright, they will kick their very strong hooves that come to a sharp point which can easily puncture or lacerate. With bucks especially, it is important to be careful with the way you approach and handle their heads, since they can toss their heads about with antlers that are built for fighting each other and scraping trees. You know the old euphemism about messing with the bull: watch those horns. As it happens, I have years of experience working with deer, both transporting them and medicating when necessary, with my father who runs Adam Hill Hunting Adventures. Even when the deer is tranquilized, there are several rules to follow to assure safety.
As I approached the deer, I did so from behind. I waited until he was fully moved backwards against the guard rail to grasp the base of his antlers so that he had no room to thrust back toward me. Once there I strongly but carefully turned his body as it lay on the ground to face belly-up as much as possible. This prevented his feet from touching the ground. The moment he felt free, he jumped up and into me. I remained standing behind him as I did this. To the gentleman who had already been there before me, I requested he begin to dig out the gravel beneath the buck’s hips. He grabbed a hammer from his truck and began to bust up the compacted gravel, scooping it away. As we got close to having enough space to free the deer, another man stopped and assisted by holding the rear feet extended and from behind. This allowed us to draw the hips together and slide the deer out from under the rail. The man holding his legs dropped them and stepped back, and I turned to the side using my body to direct the deer away from us as he hurriedly scrambled to his feet. I pushed his head that direction as well in order to make sure the launch remained on track.
Standing stiffly in the middle of the road, he shook like a dog fresh from a bath and sprinted away up the mountain and into the woods. He ought to be a nice looking buck for next year.
That’s the way out here, stopping to help an animal in distress and doing what you can to conserve this way of life. Remember though, safety first, and if you feel you can’t accomplish the task, a hunter is never too far away.