Pair of Sauk County wardens work to free bucks with locked antlers
A pair of Sauk County conservation wardens, with help from several concerned citizens, were able to rescue two large whitetail bucks that had their antlers locked together last weekend near Lake Delton.
On Sunday night, warden Alex Brooks received a call of two bucks that were seen with their antlers locked together. With the sun already setting, Brooks knew a search for the two deer in the dark likely would be fruitless.
“It would be very hard to find them in the dark on Sunday with how much energy they still had in them,” Brooks said of the decision to delay the search until the following morning in a press release issued on Friday by Wisconsin DNR Public Information Officer Joanne Haas.
On Monday morning, Brooks was joined by fellow Sauk County warden Rich Maki and the citizen who had originally seen to two deer the previous day, as they looked for the pair of bucks. The original search came up empty, but a couple came upon the search party to show them some photos they took of the locked bucks the previous day.
Just when the wardens started to think the photos would be as close as they would come to finding the bucks, a car pulled up with the occupants telling them they had just seen two bucks with their antlers locked together just over the hill.
“We were all about to call (the search), in hopes that the bucks had gotten separated,” Brooks said.
The tip had the wardens hot on the trail again and it wasn’t long before the two bucks were spotted on an adjacent property. After contacting and meeting with the landowner of the property, the wardens contacted DNR Wildlife Management for help on just how to best free the two bucks.
By this time, it was 2 p.m. and the two bucks had been locked together for at least 20 hours, and probably longer, meaning both deer were nearing exhaustion.
The wildlife biologists that arrived on the scene, along with a DNR wildlife veterinarian and wildlife health colleagues, determined the best way to handle the situation was to have DNR Research Scientist Mike Watt shoot the deer with dart projector that would use a immobilization chemical to calm them long enough to be safely separated.
“Mike Watt was 2-for-2 on shot placement,” Brooks said. “The first buck went down fairly quickly. After the second dart placement, the second buck went down as well and we were able to slowly approach them.”
Once the both deer went down, the wardens and biologists were able to quickly separate them with the removal of one antler tine. Once freed, biologists Nancy Frost and Travis Anderson held the heads of the two deer while Watt removed the darts. Ear tags also were attached to each buck, indicating they had been immobilized at one time. After a few minutes, both bucks came to walked off.
“Without (DNR wildlife staff), this wouldn’t have been able to happen,” Brooks said. “We are glad that we were able to work together and keep these two bucks in the gene pool.”