A pet deer killed a professional hunter in County Cork, Ireland on Tuesday. The man was reportedly trying to feed the stag when it gored him.
The Duhallow Hunt Kennels had raised the stag in question and kept it on their grounds as a pet, Newsweek reports. It is unclear what prompted the stag to attack, but it gored and trampled the hunter, killing him.
Hunter Was Father of Three
Stags can be hazardous during breeding season, which lasts from September through December. The increased testosterone levels drive the males to become extra aggressive, sometimes leading them to attack humans or vehicles.
The hunter, Ger Withers, 45, was the father of three young children: twins and a toddler. His wife Maria contacted local authorities when he failed to return home on Tuesday night.
The Irish national police force sent officers to the scene of the accident, where they found the hunter’s body. They brought him straight to the mortuary at Cork University Hospital. A coroner there then pronounced him dead.
Authorities are still looking into the circumstances of the accident. According to Radio Teilifis Eirann, an inquiry into the man’s death will take place later this year.
A Skilled Huntsman
Withers was reportedly a regular in the town around the kennels. He hunted with Old English hounds and had a reputation as a skilled huntsman.
The Duhallow Hunt Kennels are in Liscarroll. The tiny village in County Cork had a population of 249 as of the 2016 Census, per Newsweek.
Sir William Wrixon Becher founded the kennels in 1800. The dogs there are supposedly the oldest foxhound pack in Ireland.
Duhallow Hunt chairman Pat Fleming said the club was “devastated” at the hunter’s death. Withers was employed at Duhallow and was said to be doing his job at the time of the attack.
Fleming also extended his sympathies to Withers’ wife and children.
Withers was popular with the entire Duhallow Hunt community, and multiple contributors to the Irish Deer Commission social media site said they were extremely upset at his death.
The Duhallow Hunt Kennels released a statement extending their condolences to Withers’ family and friends.
“Ger was a gifted huntsman and had a unique and magic bond with his beloved hounds,” the club said in the statement. “He was universally liked and respected by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting with him.”
It is standard practice to keep deer, sheep and other animals at kennels so as to get the foxhounds accustomed to them. That way, the hounds do not chase any animals besides foxes when they’re out on a hunt.