Janesville hunter encounters friendly deer

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Jim Dayton
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

JANESVILLE—Dan Hartley has been hunting for nearly 50 years, but his bizarre experience Saturday isn't something he ever could have imagined.

While Hartley hunted on private land in Vernon County, the Janesville resident noticed an eight-point buck a short distance away. The deer was young and a little scrawny, so he had no intention of shooting it.

“I wasn't going to shoot him,” Hartley said. “We were trying to let them get bigger. He was probably 2 years old.”

He clicked his safety to try to scare the deer off, and the young buck noticed the sound. But instead of serving as a warning, the noise encouraged the curious animal to approach.

Hartley remained still while sitting on the ground. The deer walked past him, then nudged its nose into Hartley's back.

The “little tussle” was just beginning, Hartley said.

The deer spent the next several minutes rubbing its antlers on the hunter's boots and clothing. Hartley captured part of the encounter on his phone and uploaded the video to Facebook, where it had accumulated more than 17 million views as of Wednesday.

The seven-minute clip does not capture the first few minutes of the incident. It took some time for Hartley to grab his phone as he kept an arm up for protection.

“I had to get the phone out because I didn't think anyone would believe me,” he said.

As they mature, young bucks often rub their antlers to shed a velvet coating. After finally walking away from Hartley, the deer continued its antler rub on a nearby sapling, he said.

Nothing the deer did was painful, thanks to Hartley's many layers of clothing. The casual sparring session was exhausting, as Hartley's heavy breathing is occasionally noticeable on the video.

Hartley shot a doe and hopes to find some bigger bucks next fall. But it will be hard to top this year's unusual opening day.

“Nothing like this,” Hartley said when asked if he had ever experienced something this odd. “I just wanted him to get out of there. But he didn't leave.”

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