Some northeast Iowa men have a great story to tell about dropping a line in a hole on a farm and making a big catch — but it doesn’t involve fishing. Joe Wilkinson of the Iowa DNR says the adventure started on the Gary Smorstad farm east of Decorah when a man was cutting hay in a field got a tractor tire stuck in a sinkhole.
“They pulled the tractor out, got it out of the sinkhole, they look down in the sinkhole and there’s a deer looking back up at them,” Wilkinson says. He says the man cutting hay and Smorstad called Smorstad’s son and they put together a plan to try and save the deer.
Wilkinson says Smorstad’s son Eric, Gavin Nimrod and Bryton Meyer stopped and got a rope and clip to try and lasso the 10-point buck. “They tied a rope around an antler, got a loop around an antler and kind of repositioned it once or twice and just kind of pulled the deer to safety,” Wilkinson says. They captured the entire 30-minute rescue effort on video. Wilkinson says the DNR would not recommend you try anything like this if it might put you in danger.
He says this effort was well planned out and had a good ending. “They even had a plan for what to do if the rope did not break. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but the rope broke and the deer went sailing over the hill and in this particular case everything turned out well,” according to Wilkinson. He says bucks can get up to 200 pounds, but this one did not quite look full grown and probably weighed less than that.
Wilkinson has been in the area a long time, but has never heard of or seen such a rescue before. “No, I mean in a word no,” Wilkinson says. “Hunting I have actually seen the carcass of an animal in a deep sinkhole up in northeast Iowa, because I have deer hunted up here for 20 some years, and I can remember seeing an animal that maybe fell in and broke a leg and you couldn’t even tell what it was anymore, so it does happen.”
Wilkinson says the sinkholes are prevalent in the area and this one was about 10 feet deep. Nimrod told the DNR most people in Decorah didn’t believe their deer in the sinkhole story until they saw the video.