Dead deer found hooked together in Nottoway

Published 9:34 am Friday, November 11, 2011

COURTLAND—A Norfolk Southern equipment operator clearing a log jam in Courtland recently found two dead deer whose antlers were hooked together.

A crane operator pulls two dead bucks from the Nottoway River in Courtland. It’s believed the deer were fighting, their antlers got interlocked and they fell into the river and drowned. -- SUBMITTED

It’s believed the deer were sparring before they fell into the Nottoway River and drowned, said Jeff Turner, riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program.

“I’ve heard of deer getting tangled up when they fight,” Turner said. “Before, I found two carcasses that were hooked together.”

Aaron Proctor, the southeastern district wildlife biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said it’s not infrequent for bucks to get hooked together when sparring during the mating season.

“It happens,” Proctor said. “People do find alive and dead bucks interlocked.”

The discovery was made after someone called Turner to let him know there was a log jam — the remnants from Hurricane Irene from Aug. 27 — at the Courtland trestle that runs parallel to Highway 35 near Hancock Peanut Co.

“I contacted Norfolk Southern railroad and asked them to please clear it,” he said. “In the process, they discovered these two eight-point bucks that had been fighting. They got hung together, drowned in the river and floated down into this log jam.”

“When they get tangled up like that, they start freaking out and start to lose their senses,” Turner added.

He noted the water is fairly swift near the trestle, and although deer can swim very well, they cannot tread water.

“Hooked together like that, they would drown immediately,” Turner said. “They have to have a forward motion to keep their head above the water.”

The water is about 10 feet deep at the trestle.

Robin Chapman, public relations director for Norfolk Southern in Virginia, said the deer were left at the railroad right-of-way at the end of the bridge. They were not reported to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.