A young buck near Fort Harrison, who might like Christmas even more than Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, is ushering in the holiday season a bit early this year.
The mule-deer buck somehow got mixed up with a string of Christmas lights, and they're now hanging from his antlers and body, according to Kevin Cook, a game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He said the agency started receiving reports about the decorated deer last week.
"We get reports about once a year regarding a deer with something in its antlers. One had a swing-set swing; once one had a clothesline with clothes still on it; and tomato cages aren't unusual," Cook said. "Last year, about this time, another buck with Christmas lights in his antlers was reported on the south end of town. I don't think it's the same deer."
What typically happens is the antler accessories are shed along with the antlers. Cook said they're keeping an eye on the buck full of mule-tide cheer, and he seems to be fine.
"If he were to get entangled in a fence with the lights and become immobilized where we could get to him, we would do that. But trying to catch him without darting him is near impossible," Cook said.
He added that the only tranquilizer they have doesn't work well on deer and elk, and could do more harm than good.
"The mortality rate is high with this drug … and puts them in a high-stress situation," Cook said. "The only good drug has to be used by a veterinarian, is extremely expensive, and is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine - if you get a drop on your skin you're dead. The last time we used that was for the moose that was hanging out by the Home Depot for a month."
He couldn't shed any light on how the buck picked up his antler ornamentation, but his best guess is that someone left the decorations on a tree, the deer rubbed his antlers on the tree to get the velvet off and became entangled with the string of lights.
Eve Byron: 447-4076 or email@example.com