About a few weeks ago, a 66-year-old hunter was reportedly killed while hunting in Yellville, an area roughly 102 miles east of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The now deceased, Thomas Alexander, shot the buck using a muzzleloader before approaching it.
Keith Stephens, Chief of Communications for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, explained that Thomas then went over to the buck and it got up and attacked him.
“Evidently, it got up and attacked him and he was gored several times,” Stephens said.
Alexander, who was alone at the time, then phoned his wife and was eventually transported to the hospital sometime after 8:00 pm. While being transported to a helicopter that was going to take him to a hospital, Thomas stopped breathing, and was then driven to the hospital by ambulance instead.
He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home.
Details about the exact cause of death have not been released, but hospital officials have reported that he did indeed have puncture wounds, so he may have ultimately died from a heart attack or other complications.
A spokesperson said it is unlikely that autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of his death.
Wildlife officers have not yet found the deer that injured Alexander, but according to Stephens, they will continue to search the woods with dogs throughout the day. He added:
” We’ve had two K-9 units in the area, but it’s begun to rain in the area of the attack, so that’s hampered efforts.”
The commission’s assistant chief of communications, Trey Reid said:
“An attack of this nature is quite rare, but not unheard of. Our hunter education coordinator has been working in this field for more than three decades and knows of only one other incident when a deer has attacked a hunter after being shot in Arkansas. That hunter was seriously injured but survived.”
Stephens also said that he has worked for the Game and Fish Commission for 20 years, but this was one of the stranger things that’s happened.
Hunters in Arkansas must complete a mandatory education course and pass a test to receive a license. Wildlife officials recommend hunters wait for about half an hour after shooting a deer before approaching it as it may not be dead.
Stephens said that hunters should then check for signs of breathing, approach cautiously from behind and avoid the hooves, which are particularly dangerous. He explained:
“They’re extremely dangerous if you get them in a situation like that. They’re wired to survive and they’re going to try to defend themselves if they can.”
Yet, he added that Alexander may have waited before approaching the buck, but they do not know “how long he left it there, but he went up to check it to make sure it was dead. And evidently, it wasn’t.”
Stephens added that the only other time something similar happened to a hunter was in Ashley County, Arkansas:
“There was somebody that did get stuck by a buck’s antlers, and this was about four years ago. And it was pretty significant, but they did survive.”
Quality Deer Management Association reports that hunters “shot nearly 2.9 million antlered bucks and over 2.8 million antlerless deer in 2017-18.”
Hunting injuries and deaths happen each year, but statistics on the number of hunters killed by the deer and other game being hunted aren’t widely available.