TIFTON, Ga. – When a routine disturbance call came in at 3:30 p.m., Nov. 11, in Tift County, officers had no idea what they would find.
Officer Sam Wright and Officer Nicholas Ascani were the first responding officers.
“The neighbor said there was some type of disturbance in the apartment next door,” Wright said. “That’s pretty much all we got, that there were a bunch of loud noises. It was just a disturbance call.”
Ascani arrived first.
“As he’s walking around back, I’m pulling up,” Wright said. “He said I needed to come back (to the back of the building). I could tell from his voice something was up.”
The back window was busted out and the officers could hear noises coming from inside.
“It looked like somebody had crawled in there,” he said. “We thought it was a burglary in progress or that somebody was fighting.”
When the officers started calling out for whoever was in the apartment to show themselves, they were shocked by the response.
“We saw a huge, six-point buck just staring at us,” Wright said.
Wright said after they saw the deer, their fear was that the homeowner, who was an elderly lady, was in the apartment and possibly injured.
“At that point in time that was our primary concern, whether or not she was in the apartment or not,” he said.
The deer was injured and dangerous, and they couldn’t get into the apartment without risking injury.
The homeowner was finally located, luckily away from home at the time. Officers bust the door in and entered the apartment.
The Department of Natural Resources was called to the scene as soon as officers realized the deer was inside, and the DNR officer who responded, Greg Wade, made the call to put the deer down.
“Injured deer are not rehabilitated,” Wade said, adding deer can be an extreme public safety issue.
Wright said the deer was severely injured from jumping through the window and then injured further during the panic of being trapped in the apartment.
“It looked like a murder scene,” Wright said.
Most of the furniture was damaged, as was the television. The deer pawed its way through a wall down to the studs and was well on its way to breaking down the wall into the adjoining apartment.
The apartment was completely destroyed, Wright said.
“The majority of the sheetrock, all of her furniture, her carpet,” Wright said. “They’re going to put her somewhere else and redo that entire apartment.”
Wade said deer in rut will act strange, oblivious to a human presence.
“Our best determination was that the deer saw its reflection in the window and thought it was another deer to rut with,” Wright said.
Wright and Wade agree; people underestimate the danger of deer.
“It’s their racks,” said Wright, referring to a male deer’s antlers.
He said people can get stabbed by the antlers, and deer, especially male deer, are very strong.
Male deer in rut are aggressive toward other male deer and this aggression can lead to incidents.
The same day, another buck busted through a window at a dorm on Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s campus.
Wade said there was not as much damage at the second incident, but the cause was most likely the same – the deer charging its reflection.
Wade urges people to be aware of animals moving along the roadways, particularly at dawn and dusk, which is when deer are most likely to be moving. He also said if a deer jumps out in front of a vehicle, the driver should not swerve but should hit the brakes.
“People get in serious accidents trying to swerve,” he said.