It’s a good thing Tom and Kathy Smith have an extra freezer because they’re going to need it.
The Smiths had just returned from Appleton Nov. 4 when they noticed what looked like a log caught on their Wolf River dock in Fremont.
It wasn’t a log, but a pair of bucks – a 10- and an eight-pointer – that apparently drowned in the river with their horns locked.
“It was about 2 o’clock,” Kathy Smith said. “We came home and looked out the window toward the river. Tom saw it first and got his binoculars out. We thought it was just a couple of logs caught on the dock, but then he saw that it was two deer.”
It took several hours for the Smiths and others to remove the deer from the river and bring them up to the Smith’s home on Wolf River Drive.
“It was really eerie because you could see their eyes that were open,” Kathy said. “The river’s so shallow now, so it was hard to move them. We took a rake, a paddle and a big pole and tried to get them around the dock because we were trying to figure how to get them out. We took the fishing boat off of the boat lift. Tom was able to move them around the end of the dock and tried to get them pulled up onto the boat lift. We lowered the boat lift and tied a big rope on to the horns. You could pull as hard as you could, but it was just a lot of weight. I don’t know how he did it.
“There were two guys from Michigan, Tom and I,” she said. “Tom was in the water and we all pulled and got them up on the boat lift. We went to take a picture and here one of the deer had fallen off. Then we got planks underneath the deer to get them to stay on the boat lift. Then he got my dad’s electric hoist and got them up on the ground. Tom Mathwig from Mathwig Excavating has a lot of big equipment, so he came over with his flat-bottom boat. They got the deer in the boat, went to the boat landing by the bank and Tom Mathwig went and got a backhoe and a trailer. They put them on the trailer with the backhoe and came back over here. It was a project.”
Meanwhile, Kathy called WLUK-TV in Green Bay and it didn’t take long for a crowd to show up.
“I called Channel 11 and people would just stop by and they would tell other people,” she said. “Everybody was taking pictures. I don’t know how it got on Facebook, but that’s just how things go now.”
Tom Smith contacted local conservation warden Ted Dremel and asked what to do.
“He told him that if he bought a tag, which was $25, that the deer were his,” Kathy said. “He gutted one down on the dock and gutted the other one in the garage. It took a week to skin it and cut up all the meat. We’re going to make sausage and hot sticks and give it to family and friends. He’s going to have it mounted by somebody from around here who now lives up north. It’s going to be a quarter mount.”
Tom Smith is an avid hunter.
“After the river freezes, you’ll see deer back here, but not normally,” Kathy said. “This probably happened across the river or upstream a little and I don’t think they were in the water very long because they were still soft. One underside that was in the water was already starting to freeze because it was really cold that day. The river water’s cold.”
The Smiths will have the venison processed in Waupaca and offer the locked antlers for education purposes.