An ironic twist of fate saw a Nova Scotia lobster fisherman rescuing a doe stuck in the ice last week, only a few months after the fisherman and his wife were injured when he swerved to avoid a deer on a provincial highway.
Sterling Goulden says he’d sworn off helping deer after the crash in October left him with cuts on his face and his wife suffered a broken pelvis and fractured spine.
“But 10 weeks later, we’d saved a deer’s life,” Goulden said, chuckling during a phone interview on Monday.
The rescue began when Margo, Goulden’s wife, spotted a doe floundering in the small cove outside their home in Gunning Cove, N.S., last week.
“She was there, using her feet to break the ice, then she’d rest for a bit,” Goulden said.
But it didn’t take long for Margo to spring into action, calling neighbours to assist.
They attempted to launch a rowboat to help the doe, but the ice was too thick and the deer was not strong enough to get itself out of the water.
It wasn’t long before Goulden, who was returning from a day of fishing, got a call from Margo.
“She said: ‘There’s a deer caught in the ice here,'” he said. “When I came around, I didn’t really see [the deer] because she blended right in with the [rock wall].”
Goulden followed the channel the deer had broken in the ice as it attempted to get out, turning his boat around and fashioning a lasso from one of the tools of his trade: a lobster pot rope.
He was able to eventually get the lasso around the doe’s neck and brought it on board with the boat’s trap hauler.
“She fell into the boat and just laid there… she was pretty weak,” Goulden said, explaining that he quickly moved his boat over to his private dock and positioned it so that the deer could leave if it wanted.
But the doe was nearly frozen from the cold water and wasn’t moving anytime soon. Neighbours soon showed up with blankets to cover the deer while Goulden placed an electric heater near it.
“The heat must’ve been getting to her, and within an hour or so, she tried to stand up. But the floor was so slippery that she looked like a — what’s the saying? A bull in a china shop,” Goulden said.
The deer stayed put for at least a few hours, eventually becoming warm enough to make its way out of the back of the boat.
“She went overboard again, but it was only into two feet of water,” he said.
“She made her way on to land, got up on top, looked back at us, and that was the last I’ve seen of her.”
A video of the incident shows the rescue as well as the period during which Goulden and other rescuers attempted to warm up the nearly frozen deer.
The Facebook video, which has so far been viewed more than 12,000 times, was recorded by the Gouldens’ neighbour, Dave Syer, and posted by Syer’s wife, Mimi Champagne.
Goulden gives all of the credit to his wife for the rescue.