Yesterday we had a close encounter with a deer. I walked out on the back deck to play with the dogs and heard the tell-tale squeak of the fence, which meant that a deer had just jumped over it and hit the wire. Usually, no big deal. However, I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and realized that a deer was actually caught in the fence. I saw him frantically jerking his leg trying to get free of the fence. I went into panic mode and ran in the house calling for Steve.
I immediately called my next-door neighbor, who’s an outdoorsy kind of guy, and asked his advice. He said he recommended throwing a blanket over the deer if we were going to try and rescue it, simply to protect ourselves from flailing legs. Then he said to call Fish & Wildlife, who would send out a game warden. While I was looking up the number and telling all this to Steve, I realized it was too late in the day to get the game warden out here, and there was simply no time to wait. In the meantime, Steve had donned gloves and hat, grabbed a blanket, and was headed outside (my hero!).
I put my gloves on and followed him. The deer became agitated as we approached and he heard our voices. Several of his family members were standing nearby. At this point, the deer was basically hanging from the fence, jerking his leg occasionally and generally freaking out. I was really worried that he was doing a lot of damage to his leg and we were anxious to get him free. Steve threw the blanket over his head and he immediately went still. Bonus!
We saw that he had caught his foot in one of the wire squares of the game fence and in the course of jumping over had twisted the wire around his hoof really tightly. There’s no way this little guy was going to get free on his own. We fiddled with the fence and luckily his little hoof slid free pretty quickly. I gently lowered his hoof to the ground, trying to make sure his whole leg was in a fairly normal position. It didn’t feel like anything was broken and because the fencing is made from heavy gauge wire it didn’t cut into his skin at all.
We kept him covered with the blanket and he just lay there panting. At this point he was on the other side of the fence from us, so I just kept a hand on him through the holes in the fence. After about a minute he stood up and bolted, taking the blanket with him. The blanket fell off and he took off with his family. He looked to be in okay shape and his leg seemed to be working.
What a relief! If I hadn’t been out back just at that time and seen the deer caught in the fence, we probably never would have noticed him since he was caught in a place that we can’t see from inside the house. A thunderstorm blew in less than an hour later, so he would have hung in the fence all night and died from exposure. I’m so glad we were able to rescue this little teenager. The deer have been hanging out in our pasture a lot recently, so we’ll probably see this guy again.
We took down most of our fencing last year since we don’t have livestock and the fence was constantly being knocked askance by the deer. We didn’t have barbed wire or anything. The fence this deer was caught in is the remaining fence that separates our property from our neighbors property. Nothing like this has happened in the 14 years we’ve lived here. Once a moose got turned around in the back part of our pasture, but he simply kicked the fencing until he made a hole.
We’re glad it all turned out okay…