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Arkansas Hunter Dies After The Deer He Shot Gets Up And Attacks Him, Then Flees The Scene

While much of the United States views hunting through a lens of the affluent killing endangered animals for trophies, subsistence hunting still exists in many rural areas.

Subsistence hunting is when a hunter intends to feed themselves and their families with the meat from a successful hunt.

Subsistence hunting also involves strictly regulated population control of animals whose habitats can only sustain a limited number after urban and suburban sprawl has eliminated natural predators and habitat.

But hunting is a dangerous venture, even when the animal is considered a prey species like deer or elk.

On October 22, a subsistence hunter using an old-fashioned muzzle loaded rifle, 66 year-old Thomas Alexander of northern Arkansas, was attacked and killed by a buck—a male deer—he shot while hunting near his home in Yellville. Like many states, Arkansas has a season set aside for those who hunt with bows and arrows and a season for those who use muzzle loaded weapons before the modern high powered rifle season begins.

A spokesperson for the state’s game and fish commission—the government agency which oversees the regulated activity in Arkansas—told Buzzfeed News that Alexander shot the buck around 6:30 pm and called a family member to share the news.

Chief of communications with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Keith Stephens told ABC News:

“It appears he shot the deer and he had put his rifle down near the deer stand and walked down to check and make sure it was dead. And that’s when whatever happened, happened.”

AGFC’s assistant chief of communications, Trey Reid, confirmed via email that Alexander was attacked after approaching the fallen buck.

Alexander was able to call his wife around 8:00 pm—after the revived deer ran off into the woods—and emergency medical services were contacted.

By the time the medic team extricated him from the woods and began transport, the 66 year-old hunter stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas.

The hospital noted puncture wounds on the body, likely from the antlers, however they couldn’t rule out a heart attack or other cause of death.

While many online posted their dislike of hunting in response to Alexander’s death, some stated let those without steak knives in the drawer and t-bones in the freezer cast the first stone.

Some pointed out the hazards unchecked populations of deer create after humans in urban and suburban areas shrink their habitat.

Collisions with deer cause about 200 deaths in the United States and over $1 billion in property damage each year.

But a majority of Twitter reactions argued the deer was defending itself, the hunter was just a victim of “karma” and Alexander deserved to die.

A few tweets surfaced in which the deceased hunter was acknowledged with some empathy.

But compassion for Alexander was still lacking overall.

Reid told Buzzfeed that deer attacks are uncommon in Arkansas. He’d heard of only one other attack.

Fortunately that incident ended without fatal consequences.

Reid stated:

“An attack of this nature is quite rare, but not unheard of.”

“Our hunter education coordinator has been working in this field for more than three decades and knows of only one other incident when a deer has attacked a hunter after being shot in Arkansas.”

“That hunter was seriously injured but survived.”

Stephens said a search for the injured deer that attacked Alexander continued but suffered a setback.

“We’ve had two K-9 units in the area, but it’s begun to rain in [Yellville], so that’s hampered efforts.”

While many online joked about looking for the deer…

…it is standard practice for wildlife management agencies to locate animals reported as injured to determine if they can survive their injuries and to prevent extended suffering if they can’t.

Alexander—an experienced hunter according to the AGFC—leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren.

For parts of the world, hunting for food is still an integral part of life. The book Hunting Camp 52: Tales from a North Woods Deer Camp is available here for a view of hunting from that perspective.

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Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1