A View to a Kill

When Winter Storm Isabella pounded northeast Wisconsin this past weekend, I felt
trapped. We received 7 inches of snow on Thursday, then got pounded with another 10
inches between Saturday and Sunday. However, my predicament was nothing compared to
what I witnessed this past weekend.

I first noticed this three-legged deer outside our home around Christmas-time. First
appearances warranted assumptions that the buck received a broken back leg during
the state’s November gun season. Those assumptions might prove false.

The buck appeared otherwise healthy back then; moving around with surprising agility
as it browsed from its bedding area to a frost valley filled with aspen, white pine
and young-growth hickory. This recent snowstorm, however, killed the yearling buck.

There was nothing I could do to save this deer from its icy death. That haunts me,
yet serves as a stark reminder of nature’s harsh reality. With 36 inches of snow on
the level in the woods, the young buck’s fate was sealed well before I snapped the
first photo of it browsing tree buds on Saturday. The second photo shows how difficult
it was for the deer to navigate. It would take a step and fall heafirst into the snow…take
a step and fall. It was very painful to watch.

Despite browsing heavily throughout the snowstorm, which lasted well over 12 hours,
the young buck died shortly thereafter. I will have to wait until spring to learn
exactly what killed the deer, but an initial inspection of the kill site makes me
believe the deer was hit by a car. The hind leg showed no bullet wounds. There were
a few lacerations and some scar tissue near the “kneecap” area.

–Dan Schmidt
D&DH Editor