SPRINGWATER – Matt Boyd lost his sister, Tiffany, to cancer earlier this month at the age of 37.
“It sucks,” said Boyd, a 40-year-old Bloomfield resident. “She was fighting for awhile and it all went bad.”
In the week after, Boyd spent much of his time “sitting at home and moping around.” So when his friend, Rick Wagner, called him up this past Sunday and asked him if he wanted to get out of the house and go for a walk, Boyd jumped at the opportunity.
The pair headed to the south end of Hemlock Lake near the Springwater Creek inlet to take in some scenery and check out the thickness of its ice.
“I happened to look way across there and I seen something moving,” said Boyd. “I thought maybe there’s a fisher or a mink or something running across the ice. I got binoculars, so I looked over there and I seen these two deer on the ice.”
Looking closer, Boyd saw the deer’s antlers were locked together and they appeared to be in distress.
A longtime hunter and animal lover, Boyd knew he and Wagner had to try to free them.
The pair jumped back in their truck and headed south until they found a place to ford Springwater Creek, which was between them and the deer, who were locked together near the southwestern corner of the lake.
“As we got up closer to ‘em, we noticed they were tangled in some sort of wire - it looked to me like it was some sort of electric fence,” said Boyd. “...We crept up to ‘em pretty slow there and your instincts kick in and you kind of go at. I just want at it. We started cutting away.”
Given the past year of bad and divisive news, Boyd and Wagner thought it’d be good to film the rescue attempt. If it was successful, said Boyd, the footage might serve to lift people’s spirits, if only for a moment. That, plus he’d have video evidence to show his friends if they doubted his story.
Wagner filmed on his phone as Boyd used a pair of utility shears to cut through the wire. It was no easy task and one of the deer – the bigger of the two and with the larger set of of antlers – was especially combative, at one point taking Boyd for “a little ride” as it shoved him 40 yards over the frozen surface of the mucky ground south of the lake.
When Boyd finally cut through the last strand of wire, the larger deer tore off for the nearby treeline. But the other, smaller deer stayed where it was – apparently too tired to run away.
“We got him to some drier land and I think he was just so tired, he needed to rest,” Boyd said. “I’ve seen it before when they’re just swimming and swimming and swimming and they get on land and then they just sit there.”
The second deer didn’t have any obvious injuries, said Boyd, and he’s hopeful it was fine after it regained some strength. Boyd’s wife, Danielle, posted the footage to her Facebook page Sunday evening, where it’d been shared nearly 150 times as of Wednesday afternoon.
Boyd speculated the two deer got tangled together while butting heads, though he said it seemed late in the season for that kind of behavior.
“One of the deer was smaller and animals are weird,” Boyd added. “Maybe he saw his friend in distress and tried to push him out, tried to shove him back toward shore. Who really knows?”
If he and Wagner hadn’t happened to go for a walk and he hadn’t happened to spy movement out across the lake, Boyd’s confident the deer would have died within days.
“The coyotes would’ve come and ate ‘em both. There’s some coyotes out that way, so I’m pretty sure they would have,” he said. “...there was no way they were gonna get untangled - that stuff was wrapped up pretty tight.”
In looking back on the rescue, Boyd, a self-professed animal lover, said he’s happy he had a chance to help the deer, which were clearly in great distress, and hopes the video footage makes people who watch it smile.
“It was kind of crazy,” he said. “… just one of those freak things.”
And while this is the first time Boyd’s been faced with rescuing a pair of deer tangled together at the antlers, it isn’t his first animal rescue.
“He’s rescued baby raccoons at our home twice,” said Boyd’s wife, Danielle. “A hawk that was injured as well. And (he’s) taken in/taken care of stray cats when we lived in Canandaigua.”
Since the rescue, Danielle Boyd said she’s seen a change in her husband, who was laid low by the death of his sister.
“Tiffany’s death was really hard on Matt and our family. She was so young and leaves behind two children. Matt has taken it very hard,” she said. “This deer rescue has brought some life and light back into him. He is an amazing man and this is so him. It’s been fun for our family (Matt and our daughters) to watch the video and reactions to it all.”