What would you do?
Yesterday evening I had a phone call from a friend in a bit of a panic. He'd come across a "young" deer with a back leg caught in stock fence on his land. He thought it was still alive, could I come and deal with it? The "mother" kept coming back to it, I was told. Assuming it was this years' Kid, I decided to take the .22RF in case I had to dispatch it from close range.
As we approached the area where the deer was trapped I spotted a deer moving away. "There's the mother" said my friend. That's a bit unlikely I suggest as the "mother" has what looks like a pretty good 6pt head!! The kid turned out to be a mature doe, showing an udder. The poor animal had obviously been there for some time judging by the scuffing of the ground as it tried to free itself. I approached quietly, the doe was clearly exhausted, although the head was up to watch my approach. I carefully inspected the leg that was caught tightly in the wire, the leg was definitely not broken and as far as I could tell the tendon had not been damaged. The skin has been stripped completely around the bone of the leg.
This is where the dilemma starts, do I shoot the doe, fairly sure that she will have dependant young somewhere close, or give her (and her youngsters) a chance, by releasing her, knowing that she has no chance of jumping out of the newly fenced fields that she is in, with only three good legs?
Give her a chance is the decision! With the help of my friends' secateurs, I managed to cut the sheep wire and free the deer. She tried, but failed, to climb the hedge and fell back into the brambles and nettles at the base of the hedge. I decided to leave her there, hopefully to recover sufficiently to get back on top of the hedge and make her way back to the woods. I walked my dog around the rest of the ground for 3/4 of an hour before going back to the doe. She was jammed tight upside down against the fence at the base of the hedge. Only thing to do was to lift her out into the field which I did with some difficulty as the doe was struggling quite strongly now and giving that plaintive bark/bleat of a deer in distress. I dropped the doe into the field (much to the confusion of my springer, who was sitting quietly watching and waiting for the bang) The doe made off on three legs, occasionally trying to put weight on the damaged leg.I watched her for some time trying to get through/over the fence and decided to leave as I was causing more distress to the unfortunate animal.
My friend is looking tonight to see if there is any sign of the deer on the strict agreement that if she is there in distress after a day or so, I will find and dispatch it.
And so to the title of the thread, What would you do?
You have done precisely what I wold have done. If the skin was stripped all around the leg and she was attempting to put it to the ground sounds as nerve was damaged. If the injury was low down on the leg there is no muscle to speak of so blood vessels and nerves vulnerable. She will probably loose the leg distal to the injury but you will be amazed how quickly they adapt to three, there will be loss of muscle on the injured side but once kid/s raised can cull. Just keep an eye open for her as problem at this time of year is blow flies which may need action. Keep posted
Thanks for posting this.
I don't envy your position at all - it's one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations. Ask 10 stalkers what they would have done and you'll probably get 12 different replies! The reality is that none of us were there or faced with that exact situation.
I have found roe before caught just as you describe. Sadly I got there too late and they were already dead. If they had been alive my first consideration would have been to release them if I felt they could survive.
I have shot, and seen, three-legged roe so they can live quite happily without one limb. There is a photo elsewhere on the site of a two-legged muntjac, so the deer's capacity for survival is remarkable Alternatively they might go away and die of blood poisoning or shock, but who can tell? There is no 'right' answer.
You have obviously thought long and hard about the right course of action, both at the time and since. You weighed up all the circumstances and made the decision you thought best for the deer's welfare, which is what counts. I like to think I would do the same.
i would have also let it go but i would have not returned until the next morning to be honest and if it was still there would have dispatched it but to be honest like it has already been said it was a hard call to make. and like which has also been said look out maggot insetation the very 1st road casualty i had to deal with was a doe which was awash with maggots and it was the most saddening state ive ever seen a deer in
Thanks for the replies gents. I didn't put full details in original post(Mrs Downwind and dog were getting impatient to go out) The injury was about 3ins from the bottom joint and was dry of blood when I first released the doe. It was bleeding slightly when I released her into the field. There was obvious sign of blowfly activity around the arse area, I brushed as many maggots off as possible, but this distressed the deer more than my trying to release the leg. I've also seen horrific old injuries in deer that I've shot, it's amazing how they survive some of them. I agree that the blow flies and maggots were one of the biggest worries when I decided to give the deer a chance at life. We've walked through the fields this evening, letting the dog hunt the area and there is no sign of the doe alive or dead. The neighbour( a serious bunny-hugger) has been informed of the situation and has been asked to keep his eyes open and contact me if he sees anything out of place. I stalk on all the rest of the surrounding ground, so we'll hope for the best.
Originally Posted by morena
Hmmm, I wonder where that 6pointer went off to!!!
"You have obviously thought long and hard about the right course of action, both at the time and since. You weighed up all the circumstances and made the decision you thought best for the deer's welfare, which is what counts. I like to think I would do the same. "
Wether for some it is the right or wrong answer you had the deers best interest at heart . Who can ask for more
I would of dispatched it in the fence I have seen far too many 'acts of mercy' releasing deer trapped by there lower leg.
It almost always results in the loss of the leg and terrible infection resulting at best fairly sudden death or at worst in rapid and extreme loss of condition leading to a slow lingering death.
Hmm, I think in that situation I would have shot it but that in no way means you were wrong to do what you did. When presented with problems like that we just have to weigh things up and make a choice. Thats what you did. some days the choice will be one thing. on a different day, in a different mood maybe a different decision. Whatever the outcome you did it with care and concern; thats what counts.
I'm not old by any means now, but when l was very young i was out with my father one day shooting (must have been 12 ish) along an old railway track - obviously with it being flat and the land dropping and rising around it, it lent itself to deer crossing fences at the higher points of the land (for the to land on lower ground track-side). One afternoon in Winter and after only shooting the land for a couple of months we decided to walk the extent of the track with someone walking the centre line enabling us to drive out foxes/phesants etc. After we have reached the section where we had not come to before - i loaded my SbS 16bore that l had (knowing that someonething may come of the cover being worked by the terriers) after ten minutes of walking my dad shouted and us other two guns across into/down the track to him.
In the sheep wire (pig mesh with two strands of BW) was a very large leg (thinking back now it must have been a large Roe given the area/size) but it was on its own hanging in the twisted two top strands. Looking at it it had obviously put this hind leg through the two strands of BW from the track side spun over to the field side and then came back through to the track underneath. It had obviously died and had been eaten away. My dad then showed me how to cut BW with a knife (pin it in a lock knife up against a post and hit the blade with something hard/heavy to break).
the bottom line was that he was showing me how to save an animal, regardless of the knife (as that could be replaced) - i also got a very quick talk on how to dispatch a stuck deer with a SG if l came across one (shot to top of neck from 6ft). He also said that an animal should be looked to be saved before looking to dispatch - and to look for signs of the animal in deep shock/wounds which would kill it anyway whether released or not. As like has been said a choice is to be made -
In this situation l would of probably let it go too, but would keep an eye out for it at all times -
I have dealt with many of these over the years, if you choose to dispatch the beast for which ever reason, you will find that the carcase will not SET due to the stress it has gone through making it fit only for pet food,
I know this is not the issue, just a point of interest