Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Full Moon Madness

Posted by todblog on September 19, 2008

September 17, 2008

The ladies at the front office handle a LOT of public contact on a daily basis, whether it’s on the phone or at the counter. They swear there’s a direct correlation between strange phone calls/visits and the moon phase. From their point-of-view, it’s craziest around the office during a full moon. After today, I’m starting to think it’s true…

Around 3pm, I received a phone call from a very excited man who was barely understandable. He spoke with a heavy foreign accent. I finally got him to calm down and speak slowly. It seems he left his well shaft uncovered over the past few days and a deer fell into it. Nobody was available to help him and he was distraught over his situation and the deer’s. I told him that I’d send some folks over to check it out and pull the deer out…

Now the last time I had an adventure like this, it was a couple summers ago on a Friday close to 5pm. I was responding to a large gated property where a man on crutches alienated himself from his neighbors and didn’t know any of them. If he had better relations with his neighbors he wouldn’t be needing me. Apparently he left home and forgot to close the above ground pool gate. When he came home there was a black-tailed deer swimming laps in his pool trying to find a way out. There was no shallow end with stairs, just a pool ladder to get in and out. That was not something a deer could figure out or negotiate. It was able to rest from time-to-time on the floating bubble mat used to cover the pool which was beginning to shred from the doe’s sharp hooves. When I showed up, the doe began swimming circles again and I threw a noose around her neck from a catch pole and pulled her up the ladder. As soon as her feet felt solid ground she lurched forward yanking me to the slippery deck. I barely got the noose off her neck and she bolted out the gate. I felt a sharp pain on my left shin and it must’ve been where she kicked me as I hit the ground. I told the man to get to know his neighbors and make friends with them. It would come in handy for times like this. It would also be a good idea to keep the pool gate closed. I also remember that incident took place during a full moon.

The look of a poor innocent doe before kicking me a good one.

So, a deer in a well should be a piece of cake right?…

Terry and Nick headed out with a long catch pole, some rope and a canvas tarp. When they got there they found an energetic black-tailed doe trying unsuccessfully to climb out of a 12 foot deep concrete shaft 4 foot in diameter with a foot of water in the bottom. There was no way that doe was coming out easy. Nick didn’t feel like climbing down in the well and letting the deer kick and stomp it’s way out on his back. So, they called me to bring the chemical immobilization kit and a 12 foot ladder. I was joined by our resident deer darting expert Jeff, who wanted to come out and see what all the excitement was about. We threw some extra gear in the truck just in case…

Upon arrival, I could see why this deer was going to be a problem if not sedated when attempting to extract her from the well. She would go totally berserk and risk injury to herself and anyone trying to help her. We filled a couple of darts with a cocktail mix of tranquilizers and loaded the blowgun. I was given the honor of darting Ms. Doe in the round. She was very alert and big-eyed as I peered over the edge to get a look at her. I took aim and puffed out a burst of air into the blowgun. The dart sailed to its target and bounced off and into the well. The dart charge failed to go off and more than likely no drug was administered. We waited to see if the doe would show any signs of sedation…


Sizing up the situation… Hmm, could work as an imu (underground oven).

Notice the multiple scratch marks on the side of the well where the doe attempted to get out. This doe was good. She was setting us up to feel sorry for her… But, I instantly recognized that “I wanna kick you” look.

No, I’m not sucking water out of the well… Ms. Doe is about to get darted in the rump.

After 10 minutes I loaded dart #2 and repeated the process. This time the dart went off after finding its target and we waited patiently for the deer to yield to the cocktail mix. After 8 minutes the doe’s ears began to sag and her head began to sink. As her legs got wobbly, the catch pole noose was placed over her head to prevent her head from going underwater in the well. When she was totally knocked out a ladder was placed in the well and Nick climbed down to help the doe. A blindfold was placed over her eyes to keep her calm and a tarp was slipped under her body to work as a cargo net to pull her out.

Holding the doe’s head up to prevent her from drowning while sedated

wellnick1Nick climbing out after the rescue.

Jeff checks on the doe as she sleeps soundly.

The doe was extracted with no problem and we monitored her for about an hour. We gave her a reversal dose to hasten her recovery and left her with the landowner. He later reported that she was fully alert and trying to support her weight a couple of hours later that night.

Oh well, I guess all’s well that ends well… until the next full moon.


12 Responses to “Full Moon Madness”

  1. Tod: Good to hear from you and to get another of your adventure stories. Also glad to find out there was a happy ending to this one, unlike Jacob’s intestinal “sagebrush rebellion” during your last antelope hunt.

    I’ll forward this one on to my kids, who’ll also be happy to hear from you.

    Hope all’s going well for you & Jeanine and your family.

    Turkeys continue to do well here on our wildlife refuge; any chance you can make the trip to thin them out soon?

    Friend, Mike


  2. Tamara said

    Great storey, thanks so much for sharing it. Loved the photos. Hope alls well.


  3. Taj said

    Tod, now there’s a sport, Oregon selling tags for guys to go out and hunt deer with blowguns. The only problem is that a lot of the guys around here would never get out to the hunt in the morning. They would be to groggy from the night before. The campfire activities would include the normal man things induced by alcohol AND blowguns with sedation drugs.
    “Hey, you wanna try that on me!?” “Sure!,… John, hold my beer while I blow this dart into Bill’s round” “Sure, but do you think that is such a good idea?” “Why not, we gotta go to sleep anyhow, right?” “Yeah…that’s right…load me up one of those cocktails when your done with Bill…Cool.” And that would leave the last guy with all the beer to drink. No, not a good idea. We should stick with regular guns. That is safer.


  4. Great story, Todd. If you had worn a malo and some body paint you might have passed as a South American Indian!

    Don’t let the meatloaf,



  5. Aunty Diana said

    Great story. Love hearing all about your life in the wilds. Not so wild about the shooting, but love everything else.
    Love, Aunty Diana


  6. Sandy DeMaris said

    Hi Tod – What a great story, and looked like no one got hurt this time.

    I love your stories and think you should write them for newspaper. Would be so much better then we’ve had to read lately.

    Take care…Sandy


  7. And to think that this Tod who writes such an eloquent rendition of his experiences with our beloved wildlife used to live in our basement and made such a yummy watermelon for my 21st birthday (much to the chagrin of my father!)
    Lovely to see that you are doing so well and have become this person that I willingly will share with my classroom of fourth graders (after I okay with my principal) your experiences with humanity towards the animals many of our children can only admire from afar. Who knows? Maybe they will be so inspired by your efforts so as to follow in your footsteps?! Please come ’round with your family if you are ever in our neck of the woods. We would love to see you in person…shute! I’ll have the whole family over for you to meet them and our kids can run around the place!
    Happy memories! Michele & Vern Busboom


  8. Mike Hino said

    Tod we tend to get more fights or kids and adults doing crazy things during full moon at school.


  9. Terri said

    I suppose if either of those property owners were hunters you would not have been called. : ) Loved the doe in the pool pic. Enjoyed Taj’s comments.


  10. bob said

    Howzit Tod,
    Practicing with paper darts in the younger years did payoff. Great story once again!
    Aloha to your Ohana.


  11. Bob Hera said

    Hi Todd,
    On the full moon side, kid days, Lon Chaney wolfman. Then when I started diving,it would be big low tide on a full moon. Now, at the preserve, do we hunt or not. Nothing exciting like your experiences. I remember the ranch days and open reservoirs and deer falling in, but with subsistence in mind, you know where the deer went. Love to the family, Bob H…


  12. ralph saitos said

    Tod , you have the most interesting job! I’m glad you moved up there…sounds like you and your family love it there.Here’s to more exciting adventures in your work flow!!


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