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The Stuck Buck

Last week we received a call from the St. Louis County Police Department in Valley Park, MO.  A large buck had run into a huge net wall at a local golf driving range.  He had been there all day, but who knows how long the night before.  By the time anyone saw him he had attempted to free himself and had instead made the situation much worse.  His antlers were completely intertwined with the netting, and it looked as though he was wearing a black turban on his head.  He could run about four feet forward and four feet backward, and had the mobility to turn around in the netting, but could not free himself.

Getting near him when he still had so much mobility was not going to be fun.  He was extremely stressed out, panting, drooling, tongue sticking out, and beyond angry that we were close to him.  If we could not free him, the police department would be forced to shoot him to end his suffering.  We were determined to not let that happen.

Normally, a deer will calm down immediately if you can just get something over their eyes, a sheet, towel, anything.  We tried numerous times to get close enough to him to get his eyes covered, but he was just too hostile, and the situation was too dangerous for us to attempt.  With his thrashing around, running back and forth, we were worried he was going to break his own neck or physically exhaust himself to the point of a stroke.  On one side, it would nice for him to get exhausted so we could get near and free him, but we didn’t want him to exhaust himself to the point of death either.

Finally, we all decided that we were going to need some pharmaceutical help to get this buck un-stuck.  We contacted a local veterinarian at Barrett Station Veterinary Clinic by the name of Dr. Gilje and she agreed to come out and sedate the animal on site so we could free him.  Dr. Gilje was amazing, and approached the deer herself, got the injection in him and got out before getting hurt.  We couldn’t have help him without her.  She saved a life that day.  As the buck started to get sleepy, we were able to approach and with one person holding down his antlers with his eyes covered and two people straddling his body so he couldn’t get up, we began working on the net.

 

This netting was like cutting a huge climbing rope off of his antlers.  It was wound so tightly that there was no other choice but to cut it.  Thankfully, the owner of Big Bend Golf Center had no problems with us cutting the netting off to free him.  We cut and cut and cut and finally got to see his entire rack free of net.  With his eyes still covered, we gathered our things and arranged the netting so that he wouldn’t tangle himself again when he got up.

Finally, we removed the sheet covering his eyes, and he immediately stood up – a bit drunk from the sedative, and we all stood in a line so he would not run closer to the golf range.  He stared us all down for a moment, and then turned around and took off into the woods.  We made him promise to not get shot the next day, when hunting season opened.  The police department was more than happy that they didn’t have to come back out and shoot him, and we were all so pleased that he was finally free.  Without the help of our volunteers, local rehabbers, the doctor from Barrett Station, and the owners of the Big Bend Golf it could not be done.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being there to help an animal in need.

As always, if you find a wild animal in need of assistance, please call the Wildlife Hotline at (636) 492 – 1610 and a wildlife specialist will be happy to help you.

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