Helpers get plastic pumpkin off deer’s head

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

A wildlife officer’s day is never going to be normal, according to Allen County Wildlife Officer Craig Barr.

The 15-year veteran certainly encountered an incident that was far from normal in Hancock County in late November. It involved a button buck, a plastic pumpkin on its head and several people including Hancock County Wildlife officer Antoinette Jolliff and Natural Resources Officer Jeremy Berger.

Barr was on his way to Hardin County hoping to pick up a couple of deer heads from road kill for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing. He was headed north on Ohio 68 when, “I happened to look at my computer and saw Antoinette was on a call with one of our NROs (Berger).”

Barr figured it was kind of odd and when he looked in depth on his computer he figured he would go and see if they needed a hand. The location was north of Arlington and a bit East of Ohio 68 so Barr thought since “it was only a few miles out of my path,” he would check it out.

Apparently Jolliff had been there for several hours.

“The first thing was to approach the deer downwind and I told the others to stand near it and at a 90 degree angle and to keep talking in normal tones. It worked fine and dandy until I got within four feet of the little booger and he turned his head bolted away from me,” Barr related.

At that point the deer had been in a wheat field and ended up in corn stubble field. There were as many as eight people there, according to Barr. The deer was running or walking in big circles and “eventually one of the guys was able to jump on top of it.”

At that point, Berger ran up and grabbed the pumpkin which was down on the buck’s button. The gentleman on the buck dismounted as gracefully as he could and the deer ran away, according to Barr.

The wildlife officer noted he had seen videos of wild animals having items stuck to their heads, but had never experienced such an incident until won.

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For the first time since the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) began testing for CWD in 2002, the disease has been found in a wild deer. And that deer was taken on private property close to the Lima area during the archery season in Wyandot County.

The occurrence in Wyandot is surprising since most people would have figured it happening in eastern Ohio where CWD has previously been detected at captive deer breeding facilities or in the northwest Ohio counties of Fulton or Williams since they border southeast Michigan where CWD has been found.

More than 25,000 deer had been tested since 2002 without finding a CWD positive deer in the wild herd.

Consequently, the DOW will implement its CWD response plan, which includes enhanced surveillance in 15 townships in the surrounding area, to monitor for the disease. That includes Goshen Township in Hardin County where white-tailed deer hunters are being asked to submit samples of harvested deer for (CWD) testing. Hunters in portions of Wyandot and Marion counties also are being asked to submit samples. Wyandot also touches Hancock County, but hunters there have not been asked to have their deer tested. Testing is voluntary but highly encouraged.

Additional testing will be available for those who take a deer during this weekend’s gun season, the muzzleloader season, Jan. 2-5, 2021 and all remaining controlled hunts on Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area.

Harvested deer can be taken to the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area Headquarters, located at 19100 County Highway 115, Harpster 43323. Wildlife professionals will be on-site to sample deer from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Questions can be directed to 800-945-3543.

According to the DOW, hunters are asked to provide their confirmation number from the game check process as well as the location where the deer was taken (the address of the property or nearest road intersection are acceptable). The process should take no more than 10 minutes. Hunters are strongly encouraged to complete the game check process prior to arriving.

Each sample will be provided a unique specimen number which can be used to check results in approximately eight weeks. Results can be found under the District Two Enhanced Surveillance Results tab on theChronic Wasting Disease page at

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no strong evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans. However, hunters are encouraged to wear rubber gloves when field dressing deer and avoid consuming high-risk tissues such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, and lymph nodes.

Hunters should dispose of carcasses by double-bagging any high-risk tissues and including them in household trash to be delivered to a landfill.

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The Allen County Sportsmen & Farmers Association will hold a turkey shoot Sunday (Dec. 20) at its 1001 S. Kemp Road location. Sign up begins at 11 a.m. with the first shoot going off at 12 p.m.

Prizes will be turkeys and chickens. Participants are encouraged to wear a mask. For further information, call Jeff Casady at 567-712-4762.

Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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