2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

TALE OF ROCKRIMMON BUCK ENDS LIKE TARANTINO FLICK

Published: February 25, 2013, 12:00 pm, by Bill Vogrin
A mule deer buck with magnificent antlers roamed Rockrimmon and is seen in the fall with its antlers in velvet. Photo by Bob Gibson

A mule deer buck with magnificent antlers roamed Rockrimmon and is seen in the fall with its antlers in velvet. Photo by George Gibson

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There’s good news to report about the Rockrimmon buck released by wildlife officials south of Colorado Springs in January after suffering on a ledge near a busy intersection with an infected leg and broken antlers from brutal rut season.

There’s also some bad news.

And some really bad news.

So proceed at your own risk.

deer map.

The good news comes from Side Streets reader Bob Zyer, who lives about three miles west of Highway 115 and Fort Carson off Barrett Road. That’s about 20 miles southwest of downtown.

Zyer had been reading the saga of the buck with the mangled antlers, swollen leg and drooping ears living on the ledge of a retaining wall near Vindicator Drive and Rockrimmon Boulevard.

He knew in late January state Division of Parks and Wildlife officers had captured the buck, treated its infected leg, cut off its magnificent twisting antlers and released it south of the city.

So he wasn’t shocked when a buck with sawed-off stumps instead of antlers showed up on his 80-acre spread where he and his wife, Linda, often enjoy wildlife sightings.

INJURED DEER

After a brutal rut season, the buck was injured and its antlers broken. It began living on the ledge of a retaining wall in Rockrimmon, isolating itself from other deer determined to fight with it and establish dominance. Photo by Mark Reis of The Gazette.

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“The deer showed up here not too long after that,” Zyer said, explaining the buck must have traveled several miles from where it was released on Fort Carson.

“It was easy to identify him,” Zyer said. “He was playing. He didn’t look the least bit lame. He was chasing around with the other bucks. He looked fine.”

Like several readers, Zyer was suspicious when Michael Seraphin, wildlife agency spokesman, announced Officer Steve Cooley had captured and relocated the buck.

“I wondered whose freezer they relocated it into,” Zyer said with a laugh. “But they actually did relocate it. I saw it and several of my neighbors saw it, too.”

The twisted, broken antlers were all that remained after Division of Parks and Wildlife officers captured the buck, treated its infected leg and released it south of Colorado Springs on Jan. 19, 2013.

The twisted, broken antlers were all that remained after Division of Parks and Wildlife officers captured the buck, treated its infected leg and released it south of Colorado Springs on Jan. 19, 2013.

That’s the good news. The buck seemed to have recovered and seemed like a normal deer — with one notable exception.

“When I approached him, all the other bucks and does walked off,” Zyer said. “He just stood there. Apparently he thought I should get out of my truck and give him a cookie or something to eat.”

Zyer reported the sighting to wildlife officials and he offered to take a photo of the animal.

“For a couple days, I hunted all the deer herds looking for him,” Zyer said. “But I couldn’t find him.”

Here comes the bad news.

On Feb. 8, Zyer called the wildlife agency with a follow-up sighting.

“He was on the side of Highway 115,” Zyer said, pinpointing the location as 100 yards south of the Turkey Creek Ranch recreation area entrance. “He’d been hit by a car. He was headed north. I think he was going home.”

Zyer said he turned around to get his camera so he could send a photo to wildlife officials. But by the time he got back, the carcass was gone.

Here comes the really bad news.

The buck that had gotten used to being hand-fed cranberries and blueberries by concerned passers-by in Rockrimmon had ended up becoming a meal to a hungry bear.

“The bear dragged him under a fence away from the road where it ate him,” Zyer said. “I saw vultures sitting on a fence and then saw where the bear dragged him. The bear and the vultures were the end of him.”

Dang. A car? A bear? And vultures? I hate vultures.

That’s not exactly the Disney movie ending I’d hope for the buck.

I never thought it would end well.

But I never expected it to play like a Quentin Tarantino flick.

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The last photo of the Rockrimmon buck taken by Division of Parks and Wildlife officers as they released it south of Colorado Springs on Jan. 19, 2013.

The last photo of the Rockrimmon buck taken by Division of Parks and Wildlife officers as they released it south of Colorado Springs on Jan. 19, 2013.

 

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