Hunters willing to do things that PETA won't

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I was sitting in the newspaper office Tuesday afternoon when the call came in.
Fully expecting the worst someone's name was misspelled, the person in the 'Home Of' header was dead, we misspelled the dead person's name in the 'Home Of' header I picked up the phone anyway.
A lady was on the other end of the line informing me about a deer that had just fallen through the ice on a pond near Loudy-Simpson Park.
"We think it's been in there a while, because the hole is kind of big," she said. "You might want to get out there and take a picture of it. It may not be able to last long in that cold water."
Always in search of a good picture, not to mention any reason to get out of work, our trusty photographer, Josh Nichols, and I were out the door within seconds.
Upon arriving at the pond, just south of the Yampa River, two men were already making a futile attempt at breaking the ice with logs, rocks, and anything they could get their hands on.
Bob Lefler, who was the first on the scene, had rigged a heavy crescent wrench tied to a rope, and was managing to make headway, albeit slowly, to the stranded and freezing deer.
Heavier logs were thrown onto the ice, but if the deer was to be rescued, a boat was going to have to be used.
Bob and Josh left to get Lefler's canoe, while Pat Mosbey joined in the effort to break the ice.
Wearing neoprene chest waders, Mosbey was able to wade into the water, and get within 10 feet of the opening.
However, it was not close enough to clear a path to free the deer.
About this time, Sheriff's Deputy Gary Nichols arrived.
"I got a call that someone was out in the pond, and that we needed to call an ambulance," he said. "My main concern was that everyone was all right, which apparently they are. It's a good thing that I came out here before calling that ambulance."
Lefler entered the pond with his canoe, and made every attempt possible to coax the deer out of the near-freezing water, but the doe did not want to cooperate.
Corralling the deer with his canoe, like a cowboy driving a lone calf, Lefler was finally able to get the deer to swim in the right direction.
At this point, the doe had been in the water for close to an hour if not longer.
DOW Officer Mike Bauman had arrived on the scene, and along with Deputy Nichols, they were able to pull the doe onto the shore.
The doe's breathing had slowed to nearly a whisper, and the chance of it surviving the ordeal was not looking very good.
"Her breathing is really shallow," Bauman said. "It doesn't look as if she's going to make it."
Unfortunately, his prediction was right.
We attempted to restore some circulation in the doe, but by then her legs were stiffening.
We tried to stand her up, but she was unable to even support her own weight.
In the end, we all knew what had to be done.
Bauman did what he is paid to do, and graciously put the deer down.
"That's the only humane thing to do," he said. "I don't want to see her suffer anymore."
We were all in agreement.
It was then that something dawned on me.
Deputy Gary Nichols is an avid archery buff.
He is also a bowhunter.
Pat Mosbey bowhunts.
So do I.
Lefler has slung arrows in the past, and now is a rifle hunter.
Josh Nichols, well he's new to the area and from Nebraska so we can cut him some slack on this one.
After all, someone had to take the pictures we originally set out to get.
However, there may be a little irony in the fact that four men who normally spend their late-fall and early-winter afternoons stalking deer, were the same ones spending a very cold winter evening attempting to save one.
There wasn't a PETA protestor or Fund For Animals representative in sight.
Funny how that is.
It never ceases to amaze me that the same people who claim to love animals so much are never the ones in the thick of things when the going gets tough.
Once again, it was hunters who were doing everything they could to save a stranded animal.
And all the propaganda in the world, inflated statistics, or fanatical rhetoric from tree-hugging, Greenpeace nutcases won't be able convince me differently.

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