When outdoorsman Patrick Guyette went exploring in some central Massachusetts woods back in January, he stumbled upon a scene that he’ll never forget. Guyette, a bowhunter, wanted to scout out some new trails and maybe find a few antler sheds in the offseason. Indeed, he found a set of antlers in the snow, but not at all in the way he imagined.
On a small, iced-over pond, the hunter found a ravaged, half-eaten buck — mortally wounded in nature — lying in its own massive pool of blood. The scene shook Guyette; not because of the blood, but because the frozen deer was still breathing. It was a stark reminder of both the majestic and deadly nature of the great outdoors.
Guyette said he instantly recognized the fresh coyote tracks surrounding the dying buck. Both of the buck’s legs looked broken, and his hindquarters were in tatters from the biting. Guyette believes that the coyotes chased the buck into open ice, surrounded it, and attacked it as a pack.
As for the dying buck, Guyette didn’t notice any fear or panic in his demeanor.
“He seemed at peace,” Guyette said. “And I noticed that he didn’t care that I was there. He was alert, and his ears were constantly monitoring behind him; listening for where those coyotes were. But after what he had endured, he knew that me sitting there wasn’t going to inflict as much suffering as what those coyotes were doing to him.”
The hunter sat and spoke to the deer on the frozen pond
After he found the buck, Guyette immediately called the Massachusetts Fish and Game department. Both an officer of the Fish and Game department, as well as a police officer, headed toward the scene as Guyette waited with the buck (a jogger had called the police earlier, per reports). Guyette, a producer of a weekly hunting podcast about bowhunting for deer in the suburbs, knew the local laws well, and knew he couldn’t kill the buck himself for two reasons. One, deer season ended weeks prior, and two, he was in a wildlife sanctuary that prohibited hunting of any sort.
Guyette couldn’t legally put the buck out of its misery, but he could sit by it, and comfort it in some small way. So that’s what he did. He sat and waited.
“I was just talking with him, you know, and it’s weird. I started talking to him like he was my pet. You get that little voice, ‘It’s okay buddy, someone’s gonna come help you out,’” Guyette says. “But God, it was heartbreaking because I love those animals. I hunt ‘em, but I love ‘em. And just seeing him there suffering…It was a really heavy experience.”
About 15 minutes later, the local police officer arrived with a .223 in hand and quickly finished off the deer. The group left the carcass on the ice, so that Mother Nature could use it for her purposes in the natural life cycle of the wilderness.
“You don’t see something like this every day,” Guyette comments at one point in a graphic video of the incident, which you can watch on YouTube HERE.