ST. PAUL, Minn. - Guns are not usually a deer's best friend, but two bucks are alive in the woods of Minnesota thanks to weapons, and DNR conservation officers with extremely good aim.
On December 28 state conservation officer Jeremy Woinarowicz of Thief River Falls was notified that two bucks were locked together by their antlers in a field near Warren in Polk County.
When Woinarowicz arrived at the scene, he noticed that the larger buck had already died from the struggle, and the live buck was frantically trying to break free.
"I did not have any assistance and I did not want the buck to stay attached any longer," Woinarowicz said.
"I recalled that several years ago conservation officer Greg Oldakowski of Wadena used his sidearm to shoot the antlers and free a couple of bucks that were locked together. I didn't know if the buck that was still alive would survive the stress of roping, hog tying and sawing of antlers, so I decided to use the 'Oldakowski Method.'"
Woinarowicz carefully shot multiple tines off of each of the bucks, but that was not enough to free them. He decided he needed more firepower.
"I retrieved my duty shotgun from my patrol vehicle. A single well-placed slug on the dead buck's antlers did the trick," Woinarowicz recalled. "The antlers flew apart and the live buck bounded away with one antler attached, and lived to fight another day. "
Across the state in Cook County, conservation officer Darin Fagerman of Grand Marais received a call on Tuesday from someone who had come upon a buck with its antlers snarled up in a hammock.
"It was dark and the deer was extremely tangled in the hammock, but the buck was still on its feet and able to move," Fagerman explained.
Fagerman and the caller cautiously approached the buck a couple of times to see if they could position themselves to free the animal, but each time the buck turned and kicked its hind legs at them.
Fagerman said the hammock was so wrapped up on one of the buck's antlers that there was little hope of releasing it without injuring himself or the caller. Killing the deer was "the last thing I wanted to do, but I was running out of time and options," he said.
Approaching the deer with his flashlight and sidearm, Fagerman shot but missed when the deer moved. It proved to be a saving shot.
"The gunshot startled the buck, which then pulled straight back on the hammock, exposing about two inches of the antler just above the base of the head," Fagerman said. "Thankfully, the buck stayed still and I was then able to shoot the antler off. The deer, wasting no time, then ran off into the darkness," Fagerman said.
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