White-tailed deer locked in mortal battle rescued by wildlife officer

It was all in day’s work, according to wildlife officer Adam Jalbert, but it made all the difference for a white-tailed buck facing certain death in the Athabasca area.

Locked antlers likely left buck dragging carcass for two days, while fighting off coyotes

Athabasca district fish and wildlife officer Adam Jalbert frees a white-tailed buck by sawing through the antlers of the dead deer it had been dragging around for up to two days last month. (Provided)

It was all in day's work, according to wildlife officer Adam Jalbert, but it made all the difference for a white tail buck facing certain death in the Athabasca area.

Last month, an area farmer called up Jalbert's office describing how a deer was dragging a second deer across his open field.

"He knew if he didn't contact us, the other would have died as well," Jalbert said.

Jalbert and his partner drove out to the field and easily found the drag marks.

They found the deer not far inside the bush.

"He was struggling obviously quite a bit," Jalbert said. "He'd been carrying that carcass, that dead deer, for I would guess, probably close to two days based on how much the dead deer was scavenged already by predators.

Jalbert grabbed a handsaw and moved in.

"He was still very energetic and very active."

The buck backed away from the officers, still dragging the carcass until deadfall on the trail made it difficult to go any further.

'He was still more than powerful'

"I started to saw," Jalbert said. "He did push forward towards me. I was trying to control him with my left hand on his antler, but he was still more than powerful and he kind of knocked me back."

After they let the buck calm down, it took all of 15 seconds or so to finish.

"He jumped up and took off as if nothing had ever happened to him," he said. "We couldn't even get a picture of him."

Jalbert said two deer locking antlers is not uncommon and some of his colleagues have made similar rescues.

"Just another day on the job," he said.

"The males are naturally always maintaining some sort of hierarchy amongst each other. Whether it's full on aggressive fighting, or battling during the rut, or if it's just minor jousting later on, these animals are always doing that."

Jalbert said he was amazed to see how much power the surviving deer still had.

"When he finally let go of that dead deer, when I cut the antler off, he took off just as though it was a fully energetic animal, totally healthy."

"That live deer, not only was he dragging around that dead deer's carcass, he was also likely fighting off coyotes and other scavengers," he said.


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