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Wounded deer gives hunter the fight of his life

Friday, November 22, 2002

By Howard Meyerson

Grand Rapids Press Outdoors Editor

Being charged by a dead deer was the last thing Mark Hoogerhyde expected to happen while hunting.

But the 8-point whitetail buck he shot Monday not only rose to its feet and charged, it threw the 200-plus pound Kent County Sheriff's deputy around like a sack of potatoes.

"I'm telling you never in my life did I expect this to happen," Hoogerhyde said. "It shows you just how dangerous this can be if you don't do things right in the field."

He is one of the 800,000 hunters who headed out into the woods last week for the beginning of Michigan's firearm deer season. The hunters are expected to kill 325,000 deer during the two-week season, which runs through Nov. 30. And in most cases, it is safe to say the deer do not fight back.

Hoogerhyde said he was hunting from a tree stand on a small tract in Dutton when he heard the big deer grunting in the bushes. The buck showed itself about 75 yards away. Hoogerhyde said he waited until the deer was straight out from him before pulling the trigger. Once hit, the deer ran 30 to 40 yards before going down.

The 52-year-old hunter climbed down from the tree stand and started across the field. Hoogerhyde said he made a mistake once he got to the deer.

"The books all say, make sure the deer is dead," he said. "That's the basic rule I forgot. I was like a kid I was so excited. I laid the gun down and took a hold of his horns and he suddenly stood up and charged me."

The big deer rammed the police officer in the stomach and Hoogerhyde wrapped his arms around the deer's neck, hoping to wrestle it back to the ground.

But the adrenaline-stoked deer thrashed him around left and right as though he weighed very little. Hoogerhyde said he hung on for dear life.

"While he was shaking me, I was thinking this is the biggest deer I've ever gotten and he isn't going anywhere," Hoogerhyde said. "I worried that if I let go, he would take off."

The deer finally fell to the ground, exhausted from the gunshot wound. By luck, Hoogerhyde landed within reach of his gun. Leaning over, he grabbed the shotgun and shot the deer a second time. It is a lesson he is not soon to forget.

"I should have remembered to check him," he said. "Had it been my wife, who only weighs 100 pounds, that deer would have picked her up and run through the woods like he had a pumpkin on his head."

© 2002 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission
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