Mule deer dragged from a frozen pond in Sisters Country. photo by Jim Anderson
Mule deer dragged from a frozen pond in Sisters Country. photo by Jim Anderson

Bob and Diane Storlie have a good sized pond on their place in Sisters, stocked with trout and bass. Recently, they began to have an influx of mule deer drinking from the pond.

Last Sunday, the Storlie's saw a mule deer fawn in their fish pond. Bob and Diane called 911 as they saw the fawn about to go under for the third time.

However, seeing the water-logged deer was about to drown, Bob didn't wait for emergency services to arrive, but rigged up a lariat and threw it out toward the fawns's head. He missed, and coiled it up again and gave another toss.

"I think God dropped the loop on him." Bob said.

He and Diane took up the slack, watching as the fawn went under again.

Tugging and pulling with all they had, the Storlie's managed to drag the fawn up to the fence surrounding the pond and get it into their back room just as the Deschutes Sheriff Deputy, Sgt. Sonderberg and the ambulance from the Sisters Camp Sherman Fire Department rolled into their yard.

Diane could see the fawn wasn't breathing, and without hesitation, set to work with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while Bob snatched up his wife's hair-dryer, plugged it in and started blowing warm air on the almost-dead fawn's wet, cold body.

Within moments, firefighter Cody Meredith was checking the fawn's vitals which gave off the hoped for message that it was going to live. At that moment, Sgt. Sonderberg warned everyone what was going to happen next: "You guys better get out of the away," he said in his professional sheriff's deputy voice. "When that deer opens its eyes it going to run right over everyone to get out of here!"

Just about the time the rescue crew backed away, it did just that! Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief as the fawn leaped through the open door, running off to join its brothers and sisters like nothing had happened. The conversation that followed was everyone hoping that was the end-of-that...but it wasn't. The next day another deer broke though the ice going to water and began to flounder as it beat the edge of the ice, sinking and rising as it struggled to get out of the frigid pond.

Bob could see it was a repeat of the day before, so he grabbed up his stout rope, made another loop and this time dropped it over the deer's head on the first toss. This one being a full-grown buck with a handsome rack, the animal was more than Bob and Diane could drag out of the ice water by themselves, so they hooked the rope to their pickup and dragged him out.

At that point, Bob had a close call. He got the rope off the deer as it was laying on the grass by the pond, and as he walked up to it, holding a big sleeping bag between himself and the buck's pointed antlers, the deer leaped to his feet and charged Bob, full bore, and head down.

Bob shuddered when he shared his memory of the event.

"All I could see were those two big, blood red eyes and those sharp antlers headed right at me!"

The antlers struck the thick sleeping bag, but the blow knocked him over backwards against a gate in the fence, after which he bulldogged the deer to it's knees to give himself a chance to leap through the gate to safety.

It as at that point the Storlies could see the buck's damaged ribs poking out from it's chest and an injured front leg, which Bob thought was caused by a collision with a motor vehicle.

In spite of almost drowning and the motor vehicle injuries, the buck was last seen walking around the Storlies place normally.

"I like the small herd that comes to water," Bob said, "but that big buck gives me the willies; I will never forget the killing look in those big, blood-red eyes glaring at me as that demon charged- he's just not welcome here anymore."

Sunday's deer incidents repeated on Monday, when a young forked horn fell into the same pond. Bob tied another lariat in his stout rope and tossed it over the deer's head. He and Diane hooked the rope to the pickup-same as before-and dragged it out to shore, and then Bob tied it off to a fencepost, but was unable to loosen the loop, so he cut the rope and the deer ran off. Anyone seeing a fancy red-and-white rope dangling from a small forked horn's antler will know where it came from.

"We hope the pond will freeze over so the deer will no longer break through the ice," Bob said. "But it would be far safer if they'd use the water tank we have for them set up near the barn; it has a heater in it."