Ice fishermen save deer stranded on frozen Vermont lake

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 6:01 PM EST
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - What a catch for a group of ice fishermen earlier this week near St. Albans. And this catch-and-release effort isn’t your typical fish story.

“It made a bad day of fishing into a good day,” said Tom Ayer of Hinesburg.

When Ayer and three friends ventured out on an ice fishing trip just outside of St. Albans, it was anything but a normal day.

“We saw this black spot down probably a mile from where we were, and I got curious because it wasn’t moving and I had a feeling it was a deer. Sure enough, we drove down, checked it out and it was a deer,” Ayer said.

Ayer thinks the deer had been out there for hours struggling to maintain its footing and get off the ice. So with the help of friends like Adam Poplawski of Richmond, they jumped into action.

“I knew that it wasn’t going to get out of there on its own. Chances are it was going to get killed by something or itself, so there was no reluctance, it was let’s go help it,” Poplawski said.

Christopher Herrick is the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says while interaction with wildlife is not encouraged, in a situation like this one, it’s best to reach out to a game warden before acting.

“Ask to have a game warden call back immediately and somebody will call them, find out what’s going on and direct them or give the advice for what’s best in that specific situation,” Herrick said.

So that’s what they did.

“He said he would probably blat and make a lot of noise and to be careful of its back legs. But once we got it secured, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Ayer said.

“Never did I think I’d be grabbing a hind leg of a deer to put it in a sled to transport it off a frozen lake,” Poplawski said.

Both say within minutes, the deer regained its strength and found its way back to the woods.

“Oh, we’d do it again,” Ayer said. “Absolutely we’d do it again.”

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