HomeOutdoorsViralWATCH: Hunter Rescues Mule Deer Tangled With Dead Buck Scavenged by Coyotes

WATCH: Hunter Rescues Mule Deer Tangled With Dead Buck Scavenged by Coyotes

by Amy Myers
Photo by T. Ulrich/Classicstock/Getty Images

When a wildfire archeologist was traveling through northern California, he spotted a mule deer in desperate need of help. Hanging from the buck’s antlers was another, deer – or rather, half of a deer.

In his job for the United States Forest Service, Adam Segroves assesses and helps repair natural damage from wildfires. While heading out to a site on November 19, he found the deer in distress on the side of the road.

At first, Segroves was only admiring the buck’s impressive size.

“I took a look in the rearview mirror, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this huge rack,” Segroves told Field & Stream.

It wasn’t until he caught a closer look, though, that he realized that it was a combination of two males’ racks.

“But the deer’s head was down, and it didn’t come up as I passed by. Then I realized he was locked up to the antlers of an even bigger buck,” the wildfire archeologist recalled.

Clearly, the two bucks had locked antlers, and one had died in the fight. Soon after, a pack of coyotes descended on the pair and took what they could from the carcass. Luckily for the rut champion, the predators seemed to have left it alone. Still, the deer was in grave danger. After lugging along its dead competitor for hours and possibly days, he was extremely exhausted. Segroves even witnessed the mule deer wobbling from side to side.

“The older 5X5 either passed out or bled out overnight, and the coyotes must’ve ate him while the 4X4 watched and defended himself,” Segroves said. “The 5X5’s eyeballs were frozen solid when I found them, so he’d obviously been dead for a while.” 

Wildfire Archeologist Enlists Hunter to Help Free Mule Deer

Naturally, the USFS employee knew he needed to help the surviving buck. So, he pulled back around to the buck’s location and pulled the racks apart.

“I knew I couldn’t leave him like that. He’d either freeze or starve,” Segroves said. “So I grabbed him by the horns and positioned myself where I could use my fire boots to heel kick one of his tines.”

The antlers didn’t come apart quite so easily, as Segroves quickly discovered. And the mule deer wasn’t happy with his rescuer. Before the buck could charge him or stumble away, the USFS archeologist flagged down a passing hunter for help.

The fellow conservationist ended up having to saw the dead buck’s antlers from the living competitor.

“I just kind of sprawled out over him and held his antlers into the snow and down onto the dead deer,” Segroves explained. “After a good bit of struggle, and with him fighting with us through all of that, we finally freed him then backed up and got behind a tree.”

Surprisingly, the newly-freed buck charged the carcass a few times before finally scampering off, still weak and disoriented. Segroves just hopes that the mule deer will survive one more year.

“His limbs were kind of locked up. I was scared he was going hypothermic,” he said. “I hope he didn’t bump into a car on his way to wherever he was going.”