For hunters and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, the sound of bucks sparring in the fall and winter is quite the enjoyable symphony. From the light rattle of coastal blacktail to the baseball bat smack of moose, its great to listen to and even more enjoyable to witness. Unfortunately, especially with whitetail deer, the combatants’ antlers can occasionally become locked together. This unfortunate event carries a real risk of death via exhaustion. The energy expended during hours of combat and panic, without being able to eat, drink, or rest, can and does cause otherwise healthy deer to die.
That is why game wardens, fish and game officers, etc, have a few techniques to free bucks from natural/manmade entanglements and each other. One of these tricks they have up their sleeve is partial destruction of their antlers via a well placed shot. I’ve previously seen this technique done via shotgun slug, but a game warden in Kansas last week proved his skills as a pistolero. After his partner immobilized the two bucks by throwing a blanket over their heads, one well placed shot from his Glock 21 blasted off enough antler to free the two from each other. (Naturally aided by their startle response to the gunshot as well).
Check out the video below:
(Video Credit: Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism official Facebook Page)
Here’s more detail on the shot via KWCH local news:
JACKSON COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) – Two game wardens with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism found themselves in a sticky situation last week.
A bowhunter in Jackson County contacted a game warden after spotting two whitetail deer that appeared to be struggling to free themselves after their antlers had gotten locked. Two Game Wardens immediately responded. The first warden was unable to spot the deer from the road so he contacted the landowner, informed him of the incident, and began searching for the deer. Shortly after, the second warden arrived, searched for the deer and located them.
The game wardens didn’t know how long the bucks had been struggling to free themselves but noticed the deer still had enough energy to make approaching them difficult and potentially dangerous.
“However, the wardens were determined to do their best to save them from an excruciating death,” said the KDWPT – Game Wardens on Facebook.
Body camera video shows one of the wardens attempt to throw a blanket of the deer and their antlers to subdue them. After a few tries and tussles from the deer, the blanket covers the deer, calming them down and giving the warden a clear shot.
In the video, you can hear the game warden state that he believed he had a clear shot at the “beam.” The other warden informs him that the deer will jump as soon as he fires. After about 10 seconds and lots of heavy breathing, the game warden takes the shots and the deer run off separating from one anothers.
“The Game Wardens would like to thank the bow hunter who reported it and cooperating landowners for their help in preventing that (the deer dying) from happening,” said the KDWPT.
To be sure, this was a great save by the warden, as their antlers will fall off soon naturally, and regrow again come the summertime. This saved both deer from a slow, horrible death, as often one tangled buck will die before the other, leaving the surviving one shackled to a corpse until it dies as well. The “antler shot” is far better, faster and less painful a technique than certain other officers who tased a deer for 20 seconds in order to cut it out of a hammock. Well done to the Kansas pistolero who freed these two!