WARRENSBURG — Hunters spend hours in the woods during deer season, chasing that elusive trophy buck for the meat and the bragging rights.
But in an ironic twist, a few local hunters in November spent most of one their hunting days trying to save a deer.
One of the men, Kevin Edwards of Queensbury, said he was hunting north of Warrensburg with his nephew, Tyler Baldwin, and Baldwin’s friend Brendan Doster when they heard a loud blatting sound.
They followed the noise and were startled to find a yearling male deer wedged 5 feet below them in a rock crevasse, unable to get out.
That was at about 10:30 a.m., Edwards said. They tried until dark to extricate the deer, making multiple trips back to Queensbury for jacks and other tools. Each trek in and out was a mile.
They used and broke the jacks and cut down a tree to use as a big pry bar to try to separate the crack enough for the deer to get out.
But, as night fell, the deer was still trapped, and its mother was helplessly blatting back at him from the nearby woods.
The hunters left, feeling miserable.
“It was like ‘this sucks,’ but I knew we tried everything we could,” Baldwin said.
But back home in Queensbury, Edwards said, he couldn’t shake the scene from his mind.
“He was pacing back and forth for an hour before he said, ‘I gotta go back up there,’” said his wife, Tracy.
He felt he had to either save the deer or put it out of its misery, she said.
“I said, ‘Well, you’re not going alone.’ I love to hike anyways, not necessarily at midnight, but.”
Edwards called another buddy, Jessie Walker, and his girlfriend, Evonne, and the four of them headed back to the deer, another mile hike into the woods.
“I’ve known him since we were teenagers, and I’ve never seen him that physically exhausted in my life,” Tracy said of her husband.
“He had a backpack of jacks on, and he fell three or four times going up. That’s before we even got back to the deer. It was a grueling process, it really was.”
They worked for hours — again.
Anderson and Tracy Edwards made a bed of hemlock branches on top of the snow, hoping for success. They illuminated the area with flashlights.
A little after midnight, Edwards said, they were talking about getting the pistol to humanely end the deer’s life. They were gassed and ready to quit.
In a last-ditch effort, they decided to lasso the deer’s hind legs and try to pull it out upside down.
“I pulled, and there he was, lying in my lap,” Walker said.
“It popped right out!” Tracy said in agreement.
Kevin Edwards, his wife and Anderson were petting the deer and comforting it.
“I actually wanted to cry, to be honest,” said Edwards, a rugged-looking man who is an avid hunter and fisherman and often wears a coyote-skin hat.
“I was completely exhausted, but we were happy. We did something, I can’t even really explain it, but I think we were meant to do it honestly.”
Baldwin was in bed at about 1 a.m. when the text from his uncle came over his phone with a photo of the deer out of the rocks.
“I rolled over in bed and saw it, and I was like, ‘That’s awesome!’” he said.
Tracy Edwards said she wasn’t surprised her husband made it his mission that day to save the deer.
"As well as being an avid hunter, he’s “very compassionate about the animals,” she said.
“People should know not all sportsmen are just about killing everything and taking game,” Walker said. “It’s about giving back too.”
When they left that night, the deer was still lying on the bed of boughs. But when Edwards went back to the spot days later, the deer was gone, and there was no sign that a predator had gotten it.
“I’d be willing to say he made it,” he said in a hopeful tone.
— The Press-Republican, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Glens Falls Post Star, Malone Telegram and Watertown Daily Times share stories of regional interest.