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Adirondack Deer are the Most Hardcore

November 13th, 2006 · 1 Comment · Adirondack Life, News

Adirondack White TailThe dangers of living in the Adirondacks are hard to appreciate. I can tell you first-hand that the Adirondack Buck is not to be trifled with. My experience came two years ago while traveling about 70mph on the Northway. A scary incident for me, traumatic for the deer. This weekend there was another tragedy. I know, you’re thinking, “whatever, another hunting accident…”.

Seems there was a little scuffle up in Ellenburg:

A local man died Sunday after being attacked by a whitetail deer he kept in captivity on his Bull Run Road property.

Bucks…are overaggressive when in rut and become extremely territorial.

“You don’t mess with a buck this time of year,”…

If a doe had been in the area where the buck was, it would have become very upset by Donah’s presence…

“That would be a dangerous situation.”

If that was the case, … then “the buck must have perceived (Donah) to be in his territory with his doe.”

Donah might have felt overly safe around the animal, …

“If you raise an animal like that, you tend to trust it.”

I have many questions about this.

Update: (Press Republican article which seems lost in their archives, anyone have a link?)

ELLENBURG — Not long before Ronald Donah was killed by one of the whitetail bucks he kept penned on his property, he’d told a neighbor the animal had become dangerously aggressive.

The animal was in full rut, when raging hormones transform normal timidity into perilous belligerence.

“(Donah) said he’d have to be cautious,” said State Police Investigator Glenn Huber.

No one knows why the 43-year-old Bull Run Road man entered the fenced area Sunday morning, but that same neighbor saw him there, witnessed the attack and rushed to his aid.

He drove a pickup truck into the enclosure, forcing the buck and about a half-dozen other deer through an open gate into another pen then shut them inside so he could reach Donah safely.

The man died at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh later in the day; an autopsy Monday revealed the cause as blunt-force trauma to the head, with injuries to the extremities as well, Huber said.

As of Monday afternoon, the buck remained in the enclosure, from where, on Sunday, it had threatened state police and others through the high fence.

Even the scent of a doe on a man’s clothes is enough to trigger a buck to violence, Huber learned. And a person who enter the area where a male whitetail reigns over does during the fall mating season is risking aggression.

Either could have set the buck off, Huber said.

“(But) we’ll never know.”

In the week or so before the fatal attack, he said, Donah’s two bucks had battled in the basketball-court-sized enclosures over the does there.

“The bigger one knocked the other one down a few times,” said the police investigator.

It was the larger buck that killed Donah.

But that same deer, outside of the mating season, played with the 25-year-veteran correction officer as would the most domestic of household pets.

The neighbor, whose name wasn’t released by police, had watched Donah engage in tug of war with the buck, pulling on the animal’s antlers the way “you would with a dog and a stick,” Huber said.

“As a rule (whitetail bucks) don’t come after you,” said Dick Decosse of Dick’s Country Store & Music Oasis in Clinton, where Donah was a frequent customer, buying among other things, hunting supplies. “But during that mating season, everything gets turned around.”

A buck might charge a hunter out in the woods, he said.

“Generally, you’ve got enough room to get away.”

Donah held a State Department of Conservation permit issued April 1, 2002, to keep whitetail deer raised in captivity.

“The DEC does not allow people to catch wild deer to raise,” said Jessica Chittenden, director of communications for the State Department of Agriculture and Markets. “Captive deer are raised captive.”

She said Donah bought his first animals — one older than six months of age and two younger ones — from a farm in Castorland, N.Y.

Ag and Markets, which oversees farmed-deer operations, performed its annual inspection at Donah’s in July.

At that time, he had six deer older than six months and three younger fawns, Chittenden said. Yearly, one of Donah’s stock was sampled as required by law for chronic wasting disease, and he was due for that testing again soon.

Donah, she said, “has been in compliance with our regulations.

“The file is practically empty. Just standard stuff — no violations.”

A memo among that paperwork noted the deer were used to train beagles, she said.

Chittenden had no information about what would happen to the buck that attacked Donah and the rest of the herd nor did Huber.

The State Police investigation would be complete in short order, as soon as he handed in his report to his superiors.

At that time, he said, the incident would be labeled an accident

Thanks to News Channel 5, there is a charming photograph of the formerly loving relationship.

Update: Animal Planet to feature fatal deer-attack story

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