Dave Falkenburg didn’t catch any fish in Michigan’s Wild Foul Bay on a recent excursion, but he’s happy with what he says he did grab from the water: A 65-pound fawn.
Falkenburg and his 13-year-old son, Justin, say video taken with the boy’s cell phone shows them rescuing the juvenile deer well away from shore on Sunday. They say they found it while driving their motorboat in the water about 45 miles northeast of Saginaw.
“My son thought it was a seagull or something,” Falkenburg told CNN of the moment they saw something bobbing in the water. “And I said no, I think it’s a deer.”
Falkenburg told CNN affiliate WNEM that it appeared the fawn was struggling to survive. The video, which the pair posted to YouTube, shows the boat approaching the water-treading fawn, and then Falkenburg grabbing the animal by the neck with the intention of keeping its head above water.
“We both decided that we needed to act, and needed to act fast,” Falkenburg, of Caseville, told CNN.
After Justin drove for a while with his dad holding the deer’s head, Dave Falkenburg eventually put the deer into the boat.
Thirty-five minutes after they found the animal, they were close enough to shore to put it into shallow water. Video shows the fawn walking toward land.
Falkenburg said deer regularly swim from a peninsula out to an island.
Mary Detloff, spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said no DNR personnel were involved. She said she had no reason to doubt the story.
“I wouldn’t put it past the people of Michigan trying to save a deer,” she said.
Falkenburg said it didn’t matter to him that he didn’t catch any fish on the trip.
"We caught the best catch of the day," he said.