Rescuer Tells His Story After Deer Falls Through Ice

Posted at: 11/18/2013 6:20 PM
Updated at: 11/19/2013 11:19 AM
By: Maarja Anderson

He's a hunter and a fisherman, and for decades Jeff Slygh has hauled his daily catch into his canoe. But Sunday, that canoe held a different kind of catch.

"She was tired and she was shaking," explained Slygh.

He turned from hunter into rescuer Sunday morning when a neighbor said a deer fell through the ice and was stuck out in the middle of Nichols Lake.

"She wondered if anybody was around to save the deer and I kind of blew it off for a little while, and then I finally told Carol [my wife] to call her and tell her I was coming," said Slygh.

So he loaded his canoe and drove to a clearing. Slygh walked on the ice as far as he could, then he broke a channel through with his paddle until he reached the deer.

"She turned and started swimming through the channel I had busted and she swam probably a third of the way in and then she couldn't go anymore," he said.

Slygh said he was afraid to pick her up but he hauled her in. The exhausted deer had an open sore on her shoulder from before, but Slygh said she stayed calm, looking ahead to the shore.

"She rode pretty good all the way, I talked to her the whole way in," he said. "I said, 'bambi, I'm just trying to help you, I just want you to get to the shore.'"

Once on shore, she hopped right out of the canoe and into the cattails. Kenny Schofield was one of the neighbors watching the rescue. While Slygh went home to warm up after falling through the ice twice, Schofield made sure the doe made it through.

"It laid in the cattails here for an hour, maybe an hour and a half, and sure enough it had made it across the road into the woods," explained Schofield.

Slygh said without a doubt he'd do it again, just without all the attention.

"I'm not real big on hearing about it, you know," he said. "I did what I wanted to do. I got the deer on the shore and I'm perfectly happy with that."

This wasn't Slygh's first canoe rescue on the lake. Slygh said eight years ago he rescued a black lab on the ice in the same canoe.