When Patrick Guyette went for a walk in the central Massachusetts woods on a cold, snowy afternoon in early January, the bowhunter was hoping to maybe find a couple of early sheds lying around. He found more than just a pair of antlers, however, when he stumbled upon a bloody scene that reminded him of just how unforgiving the natural word can appear: On an iced-over pound, a mortally wounded buck was lying in a pool of its own blood.
The deer was still alive, and Guyette instantly recognized what he said were hundreds of fresh coyote tracks scattered among the huge puddles of blood. Both of the buck’s legs were broken, his hindquarters had been chewed on, and it was abundantly clear that the animal had been chased out onto the ice, attacked, and subsequently feasted upon by two or more coyotes.
“He seemed at peace,” Guyette tells Outdoor Life, “And I noticed that he didn’t care that I was there. He was alert, and his ears were constantly monitoring behind him, listening for where those coyotes were. But after what he had endured, he knew that me sitting there wasn’t going to inflict as much suffering as what those coyotes were doing to him.”
It was around 1 p.m. on Jan. 12, and Guyette, who produces Hunt Suburbia, a weekly hunting podcast about bowhunting for deer in the suburbs, had already notified his friend with Massachusetts Fish and Game. A wildlife officer was already on the way, as was a local police officer who had already been notified by a young woman who came across the deer before Guyette showed up. Because deer season had ended weeks ago, and he was in a wildlife sanctuary that prohibits hunting, Guyette couldn’t legally put the buck out of his misery. So he sat down and waited with the deer.
“I was just talking with him, you know, and it’s weird. I started talking to him like he was my pet. You get that little voice, ‘It’s okay buddy, someone’s gonna come help you out,’” Guyette says. “But God, it was heartbreaking because I love those animals. I hunt ‘em, but I love ‘em. And just seeing him there suffering…It was a really heavy experience.”
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Ten to 15 minutes later, the local police officer arrived with a .223 in hand and quickly dispatched the deer. The carcass was left on the ice, where coyotes or some other scavengers would eventually come along to play their role in the natural cycle. Guyette stuck around for a little while to film the scene, and he uploaded the graphic footage to YouTube a couple days later. “You don’t see something like this every day,” he comments at one point in the video. Guyette says that he’s also written his own personal account of his experience that day. The story will run in a future issue of Northeast Big Buck Magazine.