Hunters, CO free bucks with tangled headgear [Video]

Delft, Minn. — It’s become tradition for Babbitt Police Chief Chad Loewen to travel with his wife and sons to his hometown of Mountain Lake in southwestern Minnesota at least once each fall to hunt pheasants. This year it was as it usually is, during the state teachers convention. What was unusual, however, was what Loewen and his sons, Thomas, 18, and Travis, 16, discovered shortly after their pheasant hunt began.

The trio had gone to a pheasant-hunting “hot spot” on private land Oct. 15, but instead of birds, Travis Loewen, within 15 minutes of the hunt’s beginning, spied two big bucks sparring. Pointing out the deer to his father, they then realized the pair were locked together by their antlers. And the confrontation already had taken a toll on the animals.

“They were just wet, covered in sweat,” Chad Loewen said.

That was just before noon, and he and his sons tried without success to carefully separate the 8- and 10-point bucks by using sticks they’d found.

“I couldn’t believe two sets of antlers could be so locked together,” he said.

Eventually they called Mike Gruhlke, the DNR’s conservation officer in the Jackson area, to enlist his aid. And Loewen called his wife, Terry, who was geocaching in the area, to come and see what they’d found – and to take video of the action.

Gruhlke made it to the scene within a couple hours. He came equipped with a canoe paddle and a two-piece ice chisel, which turned out to be – thankfully, he said – the gear required to free the deer.

“By the time I got there, the (bucks) were just short of exhausted,” Gruhlke said. “Which gave us an opportunity to get in there and work a little bit.”

He said it appeared only about 2 inches of tine were causing the tangle. “It looked like it would be so easy to just reach in there …,” he said.

With some precise oar and chisel work, the antlers finally popped apart, with the final tine flick, to complete the task, provided by Thomas Loewen.

The 10-pointer “jumped right up,” Gruhlke said. The other deer remained on the ground, and the CO and party of hunters talked for about 15 minutes about possible options regarding that 8-point deer. That’s when the deer struggled, but rose to its hooves, then trotted away.

“It reminded me of releasing a northern pike,” Chad Loewen said. “Out of the blue it just jumped up and took off.”

Gruhlke called the end result “gratifying.”

The Loewens shot seven rooster pheasants during their trip, but the highlight was the encounter and freeing of the entangled bucks, Loewen said. And that his family and the CO were able to provide an assist. That was his goal all along, he said.

“Our only interest was seeing if we could help them. That’s why we called the CO,” Loewen said. “It’s why they’re really there – to protect the resource.”

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