CAMDEN, Maine — For whatever reason, deer are always crossing Megunticook Lake. In the summer, they swim. In the winter, they walk across the snowy ice to get to the other side.
But this week, a yearling white-tailed deer needed a couple of helping hands in order to make it back to shore after getting stuck on the frozen lake, which had turned to glare ice after Monday’s rain. Justin Twitchell, the lake warden with the Megunticook Watershed Association, said Thursday that Dan Ford first noticed the distressed deer when he was shoveling the roof of a cottage off Carle Farm Road. The deer was stuck in the middle of the West Narrows, a northwestern section of the lake that runs between Fernald’s Neck and Route 105.
“Dan watched as this deer tried several times to get on its feet but was unable to do so,” Twitchell wrote in a brief report about the Wednesday morning incident for the nonprofit watershed association. “Fearing the worst, Dan gave me a call.”
When Twitchell got there, he and Ford ventured onto the ice to get a closer look. To their dismay, they saw that all four of its legs were splayed straight out onto the ice. That usually means that the deer has split its pelvis or broken its back while frantically trying to get up, Twitchell said.
“Usually, they get themselves so busted up they have to be put out of their misery,” he said in a phone interview.
As they got closer, they found the deer had no broken bones. They figured it could have been out there all night trying to get up, Twitchell wrote in his report, and the two men wanted to help the exhausted animal get to land if they could.
“After several valiant efforts to get on its feet and away from us, the deer had to stop and rest,” he wrote. “I took this moment to move and grab one of its front legs. Dan quickly moved in and secured the other front leg.”
Twitchell cautioned Ford to stay far away from its powerful rear legs.
“No matter how young they are, they can put a hurting on you,” he said.
Although at first the deer engaged in a ‘tug of war’ match with the men who held it by the legs, they were able to drag it across the ice toward Lands End, about 200 yards away. Don Murray, who had accompanied Twitchell, snapped photos of the unusual sight.
“As we got close to shore, it got excited,” Twitchell said.
Once there, the tired deer lay on the ground for a little while to regain its strength to get on its feet, he said.
“After a while it was able to get on all fours and run away off into the woods,” he wrote in the report. “I am in hopes that this deer will recover from this energy-draining and stressful event and live to enjoy several more years on our watershed.”