Anter-locked deer are an uncommon sight for hunters, and a swimming pair are rarer still. But when Indiana hunter Adam and his father Charlie Anderson encountered just that, they made use of a boat and a splitting maul to free one deer from a watery grave. A video recording of the rescue was made and posted to YouTube, where it quickly went viral.

“I had never seen anything like it,” Adam Anderson told OutdoorHub over the phone.

His father was the first to find the deer, trapped on a small island in a pond near the Andersons’ White County farm on November 5. Charlie Anderson had been hunting earlier in the day, as he usually does before he returns to his clinic, where he treats animals as veterinarian. After seeing the morose antler-locked buck on the island, he quickly put his appointments on hold and gave Adam a call.

“The deer were already in the water by the time I got there,” Adam said.

Adam Anderson threw a saw and splitting maul into his car before he drove to the pond. When he arrived, he found that one of the bucks had already perished, and the other was nearing the point of exhaustion. Although the water was not deep, the deer stood a chance of tiring out and drowning.

However, Adam said that the water actually worked for the rescuers instead of against them. If the surviving buck remained on the island, it would have been much more dangerous to approach it. Adam speculated that they would have to use a rope to keep the animal from moving too much.

“We could have hurt the deer even further,” he shared.

The rescuers—which included Adam, his father, and several of their friends—planned on pushing the deer to deeper waters where the buck had more room to maneuver. The Andersons piled into a small boat and sidled up alongside the struggling buck. Adam began sawing away at the rack. He had a rough time at it, due partly to the saw being better suited to wood and ceramic, as well as the odd angle at which the bucks had entangled their headgear.

“The way they were locked, there was no way to cut them. They had to come apart or be broken,” Adam said.

And that was when the splitting maul came out. The buck’s natural reaction to the rescue was to try and kick Adam in the face. It just goes to show that even when exhausted, submerged up to the neck in cold water, and connected to a dead animal its own weight, bucks are not quitters.

“You don’t see the entire video, which is about 30 minutes,” Adam explained. “There were some parts where I almost got kicked. One time I almost got kicked in the face and the other missed my ribs.”

After that, Adam learned to keep a good distance.

“At the time I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Adam said. “I was focused on the task and doing what I got to do. Whenever a leg comes flying at you, though, you get a little bit scared. But it wasn’t really until the end that you realize it. Like hunting, you can control your emotions when you’re taking the actual shot. It’s when you’re done that it hits you.”

Adam kept working on the rack, smashing bits away at a time. Bucks are strong animals, perhaps doubly so during the rut. Adam said he is thankful he escaped unscathed.

“It kicked the side of the boat just underneath the lip, if it had been a little bit higher there would’ve been no way that I wouldn’t have a broken rib. Deer are strong. You can punch somebody in the ribs and it might break one, but deer have those small, tight hooves,” he shared.

Eventually he was able to break enough antler so the buck could swim, and eventually run, to safety. The animal did not bother looking back from shore, but instead fled to the safety of the woods. As for the hunters, they manage to recover the other, deceased buck and prevent it from going to waste. Adam said he boiled down the skull for a European mount and even retrieved the pieces of antler broken in the rescue. The missing tines have since been glued back on.

Adam added that he is thinking about also mounting the splitting maul alongside the deer.

You can see the video of the rescue below:

For a similar antler-locked buck story, read here about two hunters in Oklahoma and their experience.

Image screenshot of video by Adam Anderson on YouTube

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26 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Drowning Buck Ax Rescue

    1. Sure it would have.. if you wanted a vicious struggle in which the water was no impediment to you being kicked or gored.

      They explained that. Idiot.

  1. Why are we lauding this lackluster performance? The rescue took way too long. These two guys should have jumped in the water, one holding the deer and the other working the rack free. The deer was exhausted and two grown men worth their weight could easily restrain him. A real man would have destroyed this video, embarrassed by such a display of ineptitude.

    1. You obviously are completely ignorant of how strong (and dangerous) a whitetail buck of that size is, even one that is nearly exhausted. No way they could have restrained it without having been at best kicked and suffered broken bones and at worst stabbed. Remember, this thing was dragging another buck by its rack that probably weighed nearly 300 pounds. That’s sheer strength. Have you ever come into contact with a deer other than watching videos Hedgehog? I shot four with my bow this year. I’ve seen their strength.

      1. Not to mention putting even more stress on the deer, which could also kill the deer. A full grown buck deer can fight off a full grown mountain lion. No matter how tired you think it is never approach a distressed deer. They will fight to the death with all their strength and take you down with them.

    2. Hedgehog…..really?
      You really can’t be that stupid, can you?
      There are always people like you that can do it better….you think.
      I thought that they did a great job, thanks for doing what you did!!!!

    3. Your a freaking Jack ass!!! How many Deer have youe wrestled this year? Oh… Thats the amount of negative comments your allowed!!! Great job guys!!! Lets be really stupid Hedgehog, Why didnt they go to the hardware store and buy a cordless sawz-all? Thats just as stupid as jump in freezing water and win a wrestling match with a wild animal. JUST SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

    4. You moron send me a video of you wrestling a 250lbs deer and I’ll laugh my butt off as you get sent to the hospital with a thousand broken bones. One hoof to the head and you can get knocked unconscious and then you drown. One kick to the ribs and you have broken ribs at the best. You can’t restrain a whitetail deer with just your strength. I’ve been a deer hunter for about 10 years now and I’ve seen what they can do. What these guys did was amazing and they deserve an applause. They are real men. If that was you in that situation then both deer die and 1 or 2 people have injuries.

      1. Easy with the name-calling, little boys. Rodeo cowboys regularly wrestle steers upwards of 500 pounds, and they’re at full strength. Yet no self-respecting cowboy would post a video of himself flailing around, struggling to subdue the steer. These guys may get an A for effort but the execution is a solid C-.

      2. They wanted to show that not all hunters are ruthless killers. Most care and respect the animal they hunt. And do you know how hard would it have been to wrestle a deer while in the water! You could drown or cause the deer to drown or both. That’s a little bit different than wrestling a steer on land.

      3. While rodeo cowboys might regularly wrestle steers upwards of 500 lbs doesn’t mean anything. For you to make a comparison to a steer that is farm raised to a wild animal that does everything possible to avoid humans and other predators shows you’re true incompetence. You cannot compare animals that are in the wild that are not only trapped but scared to animals that regularly are around humans and being wrestled for sport. You WOULD have come out with broken ribs, possibly been knocked out or drowned. You cannot rush a rescue that could go south at any moment. This rescue was perfectly executed and couldn’t have been performed any better. Good job guys! For the people that have to make ridiculous comments because of their lack of intelligence I have four words for you. SHUT THE HELL UP!!! Only true men could do what these two did!!!

      4. So angry! The buck was exhausted, which diminishes its strength considerably. Watch the video again, observe its movements; the thing’s nowhere near full strength. Water affects all paties equally, it doesn’t give the deer an advantage. And they could have used the dead buck as leverage, twisting its body and head to constrain the live deer, like a control pole used by wildlife managers. Why are you guys so upset, so hastily leveling insults? This is a debate and I’m making valid points — not to mention using proper spelling and grammar. Do you talk to everyone this way, or only when you enjoy the anonymity of the internet? If the latter, that’s passive-aggressiveness at best, cowardice at worst.

      5. We had a local physician go missing a few years ago. He was found two days later, having evidently come upon a similar situation and attempted what you suggested. He and both bucks were dead. The larger deer’s antlers (a four point that weighed about 120 lbs) were tangled in the doctor’s intestines. The doc was about 6’4″ and weighed well over 200 lbs. Those that found him said it looked as if it took him a long time to die and that he died before the deer. I won’t insult your intelligence, but will tell you that a panicked, nearly dead animal with sharp hooves and antlers could take Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. If you add nearly freezing water, four additional tines, and 150 lbs then it would take an idiot to attempt deer wrestling.

      6. One casualty does not make every situation inescapably fatal. Two grown men, one exhausted deer… forgive me for having more faith in the strength and skill of our species than the rest of you folks. We’ve become a beta-male nation, it seems.

      7. I think you’re the stupid one. These guys were smart and let the water handle the deer for them and in return were able to rescue the deer and were all in one piece when it was over with. I don’t care how that deer was. He could whoop 3 football players asses with his last dieing breath.

      8. I have wrestled six month calves to year and a half bulls breaking them for show and I can assure you hedgehog you have no idea what you are talking about. Furthermore you dont know squat about rodeos as most rodeo guys I know have had broken ribs, torn ligaments, concussions and on and on. Personally I was waiting for Adam to get pinched fingers trying to saw antlers or fall out of boat when swinging ax. No harm no foul in this case.

    5. Alright there Zena warrior princess. Like to see you try and wrestle a deer in distress. Good luck with that!
      Good work fellas!

  2. Hedgehog only showed how stupid he is. He has to be a stupid Democrat. For they have no problem showing just how stupid they really are. Great job by the guys who saved that nice buck. They are true sportsmen! I’m so proud of them.

    1. I’m stupid simply for expressing an opinion contrary to that of the majority, and you’re smart for making completely irrelevant and unsubstantiated assumptions about my political affiliations? Hmm…

  3. Personally, I would have shot the deer. Ordinarily I believe in fair chase, but I’m not risking death or a mauling to save a deer, especially if I’d otherwise be hunting it. None of this is meant as disrespect for the men in this video, who are obviously braver than I am.

  4. Let me ask this ! Does it even really matter ? The 2 men are alive and safe , no injurys , and they spared another buck to grow bigger and stronger for another year ! And they made good on the other animal ! Great job gentlemen and great sportsman ship !

  5. I think this is awesome! I hate it when you see guys shoot the other buck. This is how hunters should be. You are good men 🙂

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