White-tailed Deer Drama

This story is not for the squeamish…read on if you dare….

A couple of nights ago, we received a call from a Lake County Sheriff regarding a White-tailed Deer caught in a fence at a Long Grove golf course. While en route to that location, we received a second emergency deer call – this time from a private homeowner and with a situation that seemed even more urgent. We promised the caller that we would contact her when we finished the first emergency call and went directly to her home following conclusion of the first call, arriving after 11:00 pm.

When we arrived, we found an adult doe. I approached the deer slowly and low to the ground in order not to spook her and saw a dead fawn’s head protruding from her. I immediately retreated and started gathering the necessary medical supplies. We sedated the deer and began gently manipulating the fawn in order to evaluate the situation. The doe shot up and sauntered across the yard, only to lie down once again. I moved in for another dose of sedative and then retreated while the sedative took effect.

Soon the doe was asleep and we moved in again. Since we couldn’t see except for the light of a flashlight, we opted to drip fluids subcutaneously instead of intravenously. We then gave the doe a local anaesthetic and began working on the fawn. Reaching inside the deer, I was able to free one of the fawn’s front legs that had been stuck in an odd position. Once free, the fawn slid out rather easily.

Based on the condition of the fawn’s body and the afterbirth, it was clear that the fawn had been dead for a significant period of time – I guess several days. We cleaned up the doe, administered a long-acting antibiotic and reversed her sedation. After another ten or fifteen minutes, the doe stood up and walked across the yard.

Now after 1:00 am, we reported back to the homeowner that the fawn had been removed and the deer looked great. Although the task was gruesome, we couldn’t have been happier with the results and we rejoiced in how smoothly the procedure had gone.

The next day I couldn’t help talk about the event. Again, while gruesome, it had all been worth it to save the doe’s life.

I called the homeowner later that afternoon to check on the doe. In retrospect, her pause was telling…I heard the news that I didn’t want to hear…the homeowner had found the doe dead the next morning.

My joy turned to sadness. My only consolation was that she would have died had we not given her a chance. That knowledge offered small comfort.


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