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DEER FIGHTS BACK - Hunter becomes target for prey

Apparently the deer was playing possum ... suddenly, with a burst of strength and speed, it sprang up and bolted … directly toward me! (Illustration by Sammie W. King)

DEER FIGHTS BACK - Apparently the deer was playing possum ... suddenly, with a burst of strength and speed, it sprang up and bolted … directly toward me! (Illustration by Sammie W. King)

GREENVILLE, Ala. -- Sometimes you bag the deer; sometimes the deer bags you. ... Well, at least that's the way I have to tell it.

It was the final week of deer season and time for me to make my annual pilgrimage 60 miles south of Montgomery, Ala., down I-65 to my friend's hunting lodge in Greenville, Ala. I looked forward to this yearly outing with just the fellas ­-- no phones, no TV, not even any basic plumbing. The trip was going as planned until late in the afternoon on the second day. As the sun began to set over the horizon, a shot rang out from across the holler (hill).

We all met back at the lodge and shared our stories of what we did and didn't see and realized one of the guys was still out. We loaded up in a truck and headed in the direction of the shot.

Just over the hill we found Donnie sitting on a stump with a puzzled look on his face. As we approached him, he said, "Hold up just a minute." He pointed to his right, and we followed his finger to a deer lying on the ground. It wasn't dead, but injured.

Donnie made a pretty nice shot right through the left shoulder. The problem was it wasn't a "kill shot," and the deer still had plenty of pep.

By this time it was dark, and we could not risk shooting again. The deer had managed to run close enough to a neighboring community, and a shot might lead someone to believe we were illegally hunting after sunset.

So we put our collective minds together and came up with a brilliant plan ... well, at least at the time it seemed brilliant.

We decided to surround the deer in an attempt to "box" it in so Donnie could straddle it and end its suffering with his trusty hunting knife.

Slowly and carefully, we surrounded the deer with flashlights in hand. The deer looked like it might welcome a quick end. Then Donnie straddled it and reached for its throat with his blade.

All hell broke loose.

Apparently the deer was playing possum or simply had second thoughts about crossing over to the great beyond. For suddenly, with a burst of strength and speed that startled us all, it sprang up and bolted ... directly toward me!

Suddenly, I was "the deer in headlights."

I regained my wits in time to jump to my right. But the deer darted the same way and took out my knees, much like a linebacker crushing a running back.

As the deer clipped my knees out from under me, I fell over a stump and landed with a hard thud on the cold, wet ground.

With our would-be prey scampering off into the darkness, I arose gingerly to the hardy laughter of my "buddies." I began laughing too as the strange situation reminded me of a Three Stooges episode I saw as a child.

After we'd regained our composure, we decided to head back to camp for dinner, a few adult beverages and more "hunting stories" about the one that got away.

Upon arriving at the lodge, I felt a strange feeling on my left leg around my knee where the deer struck me. Once inside I inspected my knee by lantern light and discovered my camo pants were torn and wet ... I was bleeding!

Not only had I been tackled by a deer, but it also drew "first blood" and gave me a quick lesson in risk management in the handling of wild -- and wounded -- animals.

No, I didn't "bag" a deer that trip. But I could say something no one else could. I was "bagged" by a deer and still have the scar to prove it!