Top News

VIDEO: Catch of the day – Shelburne County fisherman rescues deer with lobster vessel in Gunning Cove

GUNNING COVE, SHELBURNE COUNTY, NS – Gunning Cove lobster fisherman Sterling Goulden ended the day on the fishing grounds on Jan. 9 with quite the catch-and-release mission.

The drama began to unfold that morning when his wife Margo happened to look out the window of their home and saw a deer struggling in the water to get ashore. She called the Department of Lands and Forestry, then neighbours Dave Syer and Arnold Townsend.

“They came down with a little boat but couldn’t do nothing,” because of the ice, said Goulden. “Then she called me. I was on my way in from lobstering.”

It took Goulden about 20 minutes to get in. By that time the deer had reached the breakwater rocks, but he said, “She couldn’t get up over that.”

At first Goulden tried breaking the ice, thinking he could re-route her back to shore.

“But no sir, she was going one way. That’s the way she was going,” he said. “When she hit the rock wall, that was it. She had nowhere else to go."

“I pretty well run the boat ashore to get her. I leaned out over the stern to get the rope around her neck. When I got the rope around her neck, she came alive and got her hind leg up and under the rope and took it off. So, I tried again,” he explained. “Next time I got her around the neck and the front leg went in the loop too and aboard she came.”

Goulden used his lobster trap hauler to hoist the deer aboard.

“That was the only way I knew to get it aboard,” he said, adding although it wasn’t a big deer, it was heavy.

“There was no way I could have got her in without the hauler. There was no way,” he said, estimating it probably only took 30 seconds from the time he lassoed it to getting it aboard.

“When I hauled it in over the side of the boat it was pretty well . . . I said, ‘If you die you die, but I will take my chances and try to save you.’ When she hit the floor she quivered a little bit. I imagine she’s got a sore neck.”

Once aboard it was only about a 30-second steam to Goulden’s wharf.

“I made my way over to my wharf and tied the boat up. Arnold’s wife brought some blankets down and we made a little tent,” said Goulden. “I had an electric heater aboard the boat that I plug in at nighttime, so I plugged that in underneath the blankets. She was shaking and shivering so bad. Hypothermia had set in. Probably after an hour or more she wasn’t shaking so bad and had her head up and looking around.”

He said that after a couple of hours the deer decided she wanted to stand up. She stood up aboard the boat but was still kind of wobbly and fell back down.

“We put the blankets on her again and was going to leave her there and go up to the house, but she stood up again. When she stood up the second time, she seemed a little more stronger. She couldn’t walk on the boat because the floor was so slippery and was falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up,” he said.

Goulden estimated the doe was probably three or four years old.

“She got back to the end of the boat. That was the only way I could get her out so I walked up to her and I gave her a little nudge and back in the water she went, but was only in about two feet of water, so she walked ashore, walked up by the house, stopped there on the top of the bank, looked back and away she went.”

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories