LONG LAKE — A yearling deer stuck out on the ice of Long Lake was rescued on Monday by local logger Branden Tokarz, who carried the young buck off the ice and to shore, where it was reunited with other deer.
Tokarz said he was getting home from work when a friend called him to tell him that the yearling — also known as a “button buck” for its antler nubs — had been on the ice for three or four hours without moving. His friend said he saw the yearling and its mother walking on the ice earlier that day.
“She would not have gone very far,” Tokarz said.
A couple of people were on the ice, but they did not get closer than 50 feet away. They believed the deer had broken its back and were unsure how it would react if they got near, Tokarz said.
“I walked right up and I put my hand on him, and he just kind of sat there,” Tokarz said.
The yearling didn’t have much energy, Tokarz said. It had just fallen on the ice and could not get traction to get up. He picked it up, and for the most part, it allowed him to carry it off the ice.
“Once he started seeing land, he started getting excited. He knew that he was getting helped back to shore,” Tokarz said.
This is not the first animal Tokarz has helped. He said he has rescued several deer, starting when he was 5 years old when he helped nurse an injured fawn back to health. A couple of years ago he said he pulled a deer from a frozen stream. When his logging crew uncovered a bear den with three cubs on a worksite, he constructed a den at a new location and relocated the cubs there, so the mother, who had been frightened away by the machinery, would come back to her cubs.
Tokarz said he left the yearling in a wooded yard behind the Adirondack Hotel on the shore of Jennings Pond, where other deer hang out and feed.
“People said they see him,” Tokarz said. “They still see him, and he’s hanging out right there.”
A video of Tokarz carrying the young buck was posted on the town of Long Lake’s Facebook page.