When Matt Van Thiel and Josh Krueger ventured out onto Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago last weekend, they expected to land some fish, not a deer.
According to Fox 11, the two angers were shocked when they discovered a doe trying to paddle her way back to land about a half-mile from shore. Deer are actually good swimmers, but only to a certain extent. The two men saw that the doe was struggling to stay afloat in 16 feet of water and decided to give her a helping hand.
“It was a stressful situation, but we knew we had to do something,” said Krueger.
You can see video of the rescue, taken by Krueger and uploaded by OB Outdoors on YouTube, below:
The doe was too large to bring onto their boat so the anglers initially attempted to guide her back to shore. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the stubborn deer insisted on wading deeper into the lake. Their next attempt was far more unorthodox. With Krueger driving, Van Thiel came alongside the deer and grappled the wet animal, essentially locking it in a bear hug. The anglers then drove back to shallow waters with Van Thiel holding the doe the entire way.
“Fighting the current and the speed of the boat, holding on to a large deer—a large deer—it was pretty stressful on the arms,” Van Thiel told WKOW.
“I just wanted to make sure that we had it on video so that we could share the video, because I don’t know if people would’ve believed us if they hadn’t seen the video!” Krueger added.
The anglers let the animal go when they neared shore and it was able to swim the rest of the way on its own. It was ultimately a tiring, yet rewarding experience and both men said they were glad to have helped out—even if it meant catching fewer fish.
“Me and Matt are both outdoorsmen and, basically, when it comes down to it, we respect nature and when something’s struggling, we just felt we have to do the right thing,” Krueger said.