Oregon’s KATU reports that on Saturday a 66-year-old bowhunter shot a bull elk, but could not find it before dark. When he returned the next morning, the wounded animal charged and killed him, apparently by impaling an antler in his neck.

This tragic news got me to thinking about something I have written and blogged about several times over the years: A “dead” deer can kill you, so be careful every time you walk up on a buck (or elk or any animal) you just shot.

Every time I blog that, some tough guy sends me a snide comment of how ridiculous that sounds, and what a wuss I must be.

Well, don’t blow it off. This is admittedly rare, but it can happen. Last I heard of a whitetail buck killing a hunter was in Arkansas in 2019. Now this elk incident.

To prevent this from happening to you, be vigilant and smart:

  • After you shoot a buck, wait 30 minutes or longer before approaching it, even if you can see it and know it’s dead.
  • Approach a fallen animal slowly from behind…don’t take your eyes off it and look for any movement…look at the eyes, they should be glassy and open and unblinking…poke the animal several times in the rump with the tip of your bow or gun barrel to make sure it doesn’t move a muscle.
  • If you’re gun hunting, re-load your muzzleloader/slug gun/rifle, and be on your toes as you walk up to a buck. If it moves or tries to get up, shoot it again.
  • Bowhunters must approach a dead deer or bull very carefully. If legal in your state, consider carrying a handgun for both self-defense/protection and to dispatch a wounded animal. Last I read carrying while bowhunting is legal in 37 states.

(Photo @ Oregon State Police)