According to The Pine Journal,a massive nontypical whitetail buck that has become a hunting legend across Thief River Falls, Minnesota, found itself trapped on the iced over and snow covered Red Lake River.
The Fire Department received a call about the trapped buck right before 8 AM.
Fire Chief Rick Beier told the outlet:
“I took a drive down there to verify it, came back to the (Fire Hall), and we decided to put a team of about 10 guys together and send out the equipment and see what we could do.”
Local firefighter Devin Spears, who was apart of the rescue effort, said the buck was trapped not too far from shore, and the ice where the buck fell through wasn’t too bad.
He said the ice may have shifted and heaved, making the ice thinner, ultimately resulting in the buck falling in:
“On both sides of where he went in, it looked like good ice.”
Emergency services were able to get close enough to the buck to toss a straw up behind its antlers, and then pull it out of the river.
“There was one guy on each side of the tow strap and then they just kind of looped his antlers with it and dragged him up on the ice shelf.
We let him sit on the ice for a minute or two, and he didn’t do anything, so then we slid him to the edge.
And then there’s about a 3- or 4-foot embankment and then we got him up on the bank right on the edge of the woods. He just sat there for a minute or two, and then he got up and stumbled his way into the woods.”
The rescue only took a brief amount of time, and they were back at the firehouse by 8:45 AM, Beier said:
“Luckily for us, he was pretty played out, so that took a lot of the danger factor away, with the size of the rack that was on that guy.
That’s always a concern when you’re dealing with a wild animal like that because the last thing you want is to put somebody out there, and then they get stabbed by an antler or something like that.
He was a good-sized animal, so that was our main concern.”
Beier added that it was tough to figure out how long the buck had been trapped, but it appeared to be really tired, and he hopes it was able to continue to survive.
He then weighed in on how the buck has been the talk of hunters across town:
“It’s been a little crazy, for sure. And here’s the deal – he was kind of a legend around here anyway. A lot of people have caught him on their trail cameras and things like that. He’s been plastered on Facebook well before this, and all of a sudden – boom – there he is in the river.”
Spears also noted that the buck was even more impressive in person, and pictures don’t do it justice:
“They almost don’t do justice to how big it is. Even though the pictures are up close, when you see something like that in person – just how wide it is and how tall it is – it’s just crazy.”
And at the end of the day, Spears just hopes that the buck isn’t significantly injured, and is able to continue to survive:
“You hope he makes it until next year now. Obviously, anything can still happen. When you see pictures of big deer like that, you always wonder, ‘whatever happened to that deer?’
You think about it, and if that would have been two hours earlier, nobody would have ever seen him go down. Nobody would have ever known what happened to him.”