Most of us have been out on a boat in the middle of the water at some point in our life. And, probably a whole lot of us have a story to tell of something we saw that was out of the ordinary.
Maybe a boatload of girls in skimpy bikinis passed us. Or an ice-filled cooler floated by, trailing behind a boat full of guys. Maybe guys out looking for that boatload of bikini-clad girls?
But, one family from Lakeview, NY saw something from their boat that made them all stop and take a second look. Then they looked at each other with “is that what I think it is?” looks on their face.
It wasn’t a mermaid, the Loch Ness monster or any of the other tales that sailors have told of sightings in centuries past.
They were seeing a baby deer swimming through the waves.
Joe Schmelzinger had brought his family out for a day on the water. They are all avid outdoors people, so they were enjoying the sights and sounds that accompany a day on the boat.
They were on vacation in the Thousand Islands. That day they were coasting along about 70 feet above the floor of Lake Ontario when they spotted a young buck trying to keep his head above the water.
He was giving it a valiant effort to stay afloat, but they could see that he was rapidly tiring. He was a very young baby and the current was extremely strong. The family knew they didn’t have much time.
The Schmelzingers pulled their boat up closer to the young deer, hoping to not panic it further. The animal seemed to be floating closer to the vessel. He didn’t fight to get away from them, so they knew they had at least a chance at saving his life.
Annette took out her cellphone and decided to record what became a one-of-a-kind water rescue.
Her husband grabbed onto the baby deer and pulled it to safety up on the boat. The rescue took about 20 minutes of perfect timing just trying to get the boat into exactly the right position. It had to be exactly next to the buck to make the transition from water to the boat.
Joe was afraid that even after he had pulled the baby to safety there might still be a problem. A panicked deer reacts without thinking. He could dive off the boat back into the water.
He could also injure the family members with his sharp hooves if he became frightened enough.
Their fears were for naught. The baby was so grateful to no longer be struggling against the waves, he relaxed into the large towel they put around him.
The family used every towel on the boat getting the baby dry and warm. Even Alivia, 6, helped in the effort. She was quoted as saying she was concerned about the baby deer because “That thing didn’t even have floaties.”
As the family headed for shore to deposit the baby back safely on dry land, other friendly boaters hailed them asking if they’d caught anything. Several of them held up strings of fish.
Their mouths dropped open when the Schmelzingers pointed to their catch of the day. Not something most fishermen are used to seeing on another fisherman’s boat!
The family finally got the young buck to shore. They put him into their truck and drove him to a wooded area right off the island nearby before releasing him.
A friend of the Schmelzingers, Guy Peterson, held the deer and slowly lowered him from the truck bed. It took a few minutes for the baby to get his land legs back. fell awkwardly onto the ground, ran under the truck and finally hopped off into the woods.
He was still quite weak from battling against the waves for so long. I’m sure that fear had weakened him as well. He fell awkwardly to the ground before he ran under the truck. Finally, they watched as he bounced off into the woods.
Thankfully, he wasn’t injured by his adventure. And, considering the straight path he took into the woods, it appeared that he knew exactly where he was going.
We hope he reunited with his family quickly. What stories he will have to tell them.
Here’s the complete footage-
But, nothing like the fishing tale the Schmelzingers will have to tell about the “big one that got away.”