October 17, 2018
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Nimble deer dodges death, floats down Maine river on ice sheet

Tylor Kellys Camps Allagash Maine via Facebook | BDN
Tylor Kellys Camps Allagash Maine via Facebook | BDN

When the Allagash and St. John rivers finally begin moving after spending five months frozen over, it can be a spectator sport for local residents. On Monday, many of those residents got more than they bargained for as a young deer floated past on an ice floe.

Sue Underhill Kelly was one of those who captured the scene and shared it on Facebook. As of Monday morning, more than 51,000 people had watched her video, which we’ve shared here with her permission.

Kelly said she began filming at Cross Rock on Monday afternoon, near the Allagash-St. Francis town line.

“We were holding our breath as it floated by and it looked right at us like ‘Could you throw me line?’” Kelly wrote in a text exchange. “We were thinking certain death. But we watched it stay afloat until it went out of sight around a bend. We jumped in the truck and went downstream and saw it still holding on. Again, we watched until out of sight.”

Kelly said people began to congregate on the riverbank and began to root for the deer.

“Now there was a crowd gathering, gasping at each close call and cheering at every nimble recovery made by the deer,” Kelly wrote. “We again followed it downstream another mile until we lost sight of it. We drove downstream trying to see but figured it finally fell in.”

At one point, the ice under the deer begins to break apart, and the deer scrambles back toward more solid footing. Kelly said the deer surfed its way downriver at least two miles, and she went home fearing the worst.

“After posting my video on Facebook I saw the other video of it making it to shore! The deer never panicked and was so nimble, and absolutely cheated death. It was lucky to float near enough to the shore and it jumped in at the perfect moment,” she wrote. “I can joke about this now that I know it’s safe but I was thinking ‘land of misfit toys.’ Looked just like a scene from Rudolph.”

Bev Jandreau of St. Francis captured the final moments of that harrowing ride down river, and has shared her videos with us. In Jandreau’s first video, the deer creeps toward the edge of a rapidly diminishing ice sheet, and takes a leap of faith.

The deer’s fate isn’t readily apparent, though.

The final video, also by Jandreau, shows the deer as it scampers across the road, much to the relief of those on the scene.

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