Floods Leave Dead Bucks High In Trees

The remains of two deer stuck high in trees show that flood waters and big racks don't mix.

Jordan Davis | March 17, 2016

It’s pretty slim odds when GON is able to write a story about the remains of a dead deer found dangling in a tree, but when we’re able to report that two different readers in two different parts of the state report the same instance in less than a month, it almost seems unbelievable.

Brock Smith, of Bainbridge, made his unusual deer discovery while boating on the Flint River in Decatur County on March 15.

After putting the boat in the water at Big Slough Landing, Brock and his family were enjoying an afternoon on the water when he discovered a huge buck dead way up in a tree.

The tree was in the edge of the water, and the deer was hanging approximately 16 to 18 feet above the ground.

“I was so eager to get up there and get him down,” said Brock.

It was obvious the deer had been in the tree for quite some time. A waterline had formed midway up its body.

When retrieving the deer, Brock noticed that the 8-point buck had created a wedge to hold himself above the water. But when the cold river waters did not recede quickly, the deer had no chance at survival.

The Flint River experienced high flood stages during the month of January, which probably resulted in the buck having no place else to go.

“He was on the downside of the tree, and during that time, water stayed above flood stage for almost two weeks,” said Brock.

As the crow flies, the buck was 3 miles from Brock’s private hunting land, where in December the buck was spotted on a trail camera.

“It was strange,” said Brock. “He was only about 150 yards south of a friend’s dock, and I can’t believe no one had seen him before now.”

Another story similar on the complete opposite end of the state comes from Ethan Watkins, of Walhalla, S.C. While fishing the South Carolina side of the Chattooga River on Feb. 21, Ethan glanced across the river and noticed what he thought was a plastic bag hanging in a tree.

“Then I saw the antlers and realized it was a pretty nice buck hanging there,” said Ethan.

Just like Brock, Ethan couldn’t stand to leave the buck hanging without checking it out. Fully clothed, he waded chest deep across the river into Rabun County, Georgia.

Ethan then climbed roughly 20 feet up the tree to reach the dangling buck.

“It had all kind of sticks and debris stuck in and around him,” said Ethan.

It was clear that he had also been stuck in the tree for quite a while as well. After managing to get the deer loose, they both fell to the ground.

Ethan drug the 8-pointer back across the river where he was able to remove the antlers for a skull mount.

When you see strange things out and about this spring, be sure to e-mail GON at [email protected].

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