When a hunter willingly goes home empty-handed

We’ve all heard the tales from hunter friends or relatives who’ve gone through great lengths to track and bag (in their stories at least) a deer in the woods. But what would drive hunters to risk their lives to save one?

The Park Rapids Enterprise today carries the story of two men who rescued a young buck that had gone through the thin ice of Two Inlets Lake, just south of Lake Itasca State Park.

Two dogs had chased it onto the lake, said Glen Wolters. His neighbor, Don Wheeler, came over to help.

“We drove down to the deer,” Wolters recalled. “It was 100 yards out on the ice” and had gone through.

“Its head was resting on the ice.”

Ice depths toward shore, where the deer started, were two inches. It was less than an inch thick where it fell through off shore.

Wolters raced back home and got his jon boat. He maneuvered the craft from the lake, onto the ice and near the spike buck, which by now had given up the fight.

Follow the link to the Enterprise for the climax of the two-hour rescue.

When asked why he did it, Wolters says simply that the deer “deserves to survive the season” and that he probably would have shot him under more normal circumstances.

But what Wolters and his neighbor did shouldn’t come as a surprise. Was it a smart thing to do? No, which Wolters admitted when he called the venture “hazardous as hell.” But it does show a trait common to the best hunters: A respect for the fragility of the natural world and everything in it — including themselves.