A mule deer puts up a tragically heroic struggle to free itself from a partially frozen river, until two other heroes arrive to save the day.
This is surely one of the more heart-wrenching wildlife struggles we’ve seen.
A mule deer buck found itself trapped in the middle of the freezing waters of Big Thompson River in Estes Park, Colorado. Each side of the river had frozen solid, with perhaps eight feet of thick ice bordering a narrow strip of flowing open water in the middle.
The buck struggles with a determination that highlights the perilous situation he’s in. Soaking wet in the freezing water, the animal tries over and over again to gain some small foothold on the slick ice, so that it might pull itself up and out of the river.
It’s tough to watch, as the deer’s hooves slide over the ice and its knees repeatedly fold to take the brunt of its weight. He comes so close to freeing himself so many times. Even the cameraman is rooting him on. “Come on!” he urgently pleads.
Eventually, two uniformed officers arrive with a length of rope. We are told that they are Estes Park Police Officers.
The mule deer appears worn out by this time, as he looks to the approaching officers. But he’s got enough energy to struggle even more as they smoothly toss the rope over his antlers and begin to pull.
As soon as they heave the buck up and out of the water and onto the ice, the camera operator echoes our own relief with an “Alright! YEAH!”
We watch as the buck wanders towards the treeline, shaking and twisting its head as if to loosen cramped muscles.
It’s a great ending to the story, and a “Well done!” salute to the Estes Park Police Department.