Wisconsin bowhunter learned the hard way to respect a wounded doe. What went wrong?

Deer Attacks Hunter

A hunter in Wisconsin got a rough reminder about bowhunting safety on Friday when he was attacked by a deer he was hunting.

The report, making the rounds as a “revenge of the deer” tale, says the 72-year-old hunter was injured when the doe he was tracking while crossbow hunting surprised him and hit him in the leg. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital and his current condition is unknown. The deer got away.

This is a rare and bizarre situation: most of the time, hunters come home unscathed, but incidents like this can be serious if proper precautions aren’t taken.

Let’s look at the safety measures this hunter may have missed:
• He did not approach the deer from behind and above. If he had, the deer would have been more likely to leap away from him, rather than toward him.
• He didn’t make a clean shot, leaving the doe wounded. Proper shot placement is critical; on a deer, bowhunters should aim for the chest cavity, with intent to strike the liver, diaphragm, lungs and heart.

But he did a lot right, too:
• He waited before tracking the deer. It’s unclear how long he waited, but it’s safest to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour.
• Friends or family knew where he was hunting, and were able to help him get out when he was injured.
• He sought medical attention quickly.

It’s important to remember that these kinds of incidents are pretty rare: in 2007 (the last year data is available), there was only one crossbow-related injury reported, according to the IHEA-USA. That’s in large part because of hunter education and safety measures. That said, a lot can happen in the field—it’s wild out there!

If you want to brush up on your bowhunting safety, it’s always good to take a bowhunting education course for your state.

Have you ever experienced “revenge of the deer”? What happened?