What are the odds of finding three bucks like this?

Forester Jason Good was surveying timber in Meigs County, Ohio, on November 12 when he stumbled upon a bizarre sight that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up: In a waist-deep pool of Leading Creek, nose-to-nose like fish on a stringer, floated three whitetail bucks locked together.

Good spotted the deer from a distance and, at first, thought it was a single carcass. “It was close to the road, and I figured somebody had poached a deer,” he recalls. Even after a second look revealed two deer, he was about to walk away. “I see dead deer in the woods all the time,” explains Good, who measures timber for a lumber company. “I almost ignored it until I looked again and saw it was three whitetail bucks.”

Three Ohio Bucks Locked Together

From the creek bank he realized he’d found something special — not just three deer, but three bucks that appeared to have locked antlers. “I sat there 20 minutes just looking at them, totally amazed, and it took that long to sink in what I was looking at,” Good says. “I thought, ‘If this is really what I think this is then I cannot screw this up.’ I wanted to make sure everything was done by the book so the landowner got to keep these horns.” It wasn’t going to be a big buck rescue….more of a salvage.

When he called the landowner, he said, “Brien, I’ve found something on your property I’ve never seen before, and you’ve got to see it,’” Burke recalls. “I’m thinking a murder, a meth lab, who knows? I said, ‘Jason, just tell me what it is.’ He says, ‘It’s three bucks locked together and they’re floating dead in your creek.’” Burke couldn’t believe it. “I could see two, but three? I asked if he was sure and he said, ‘Yes.’ I drove down and met him. They were floating in the creek almost like three petals of a flower or something.”

From the creek bank he realized he’d found “something special” — not just three deer, but three bucks that appeared to have locked antlers.

He reached out to an old college buddy who worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He advised Burke not to touch the deer and put him in contact with Joshua Shields, the ODNR conservation officer for Meigs County. Shields was too busy to examine the scene until the following Monday. “It was the peak of the rut, and I knew there’d be a lot of hunters in the field,” Burke says. He kept the find quiet and maintained a close eye on his property until Monday rolled around.

On Monday, Burke assembled his salvage team at the site, a farm where he and his father built a hunting lodge in 1974 and where they’ve hunted ever since. After examining the scene, which included extensive evidence of the bucks’ battle royale, Officer Shields determined the find was legit, and the salvage operation began.

The best way to untangle the pileup, Burke and Shields decided, was to sever the heads of two of the deer and remove their bodies; then the third deer would be removed intact, with the racks of the first two bucks still locked in its antlers.

The best way to untangle the pileup, Burke and Shields decided, was to sever the heads of two of the deer and remove their bodies; then the third deer would be removed intact, with the racks of the first two bucks still locked in its antlers. “All three of the bodies were 200 pounds plus,” Burke says. “No way were we going to move them all together, and my top priority was to preserve the integrity of the lock.”  Burke’s friend Chris Davis waded into the water and zip-tied the antlers together as a precaution. Davis prepared to begin sawing as Burke and Shields watched.

Three mature whitetails bucks

After removing the bodies of the first two deer, Burke and Shields (joined by logger Bobby Thompson, left, and forester Jason Good, right) waited for Davis to pull the last buck—with the heads of its rivals still attached—from the creek. As Davis lifted the mass of horns above the water, the crew got their first inkling of just how remarkable a find this was. “I knew it was something special, but I don’t think any of us knew how special until we lifted them out of the water,” Good says. “It was hard to judge the racks all tangled up under water; I thought they were three scrawny bucks locked together. When they came up out of the water it made the hair on back of my neck stand up again. Holy cow!” 

The combatants turned out to be an 11-pointer, a 10-pointer and a 7-pointer with an eighth broken tine.

Official Boone & Crockett scorer Jack Satterfield took on the daunting task of putting together a green score for the three intertwined racks. All together they tallied more than 400 inches of bone. The 11-pointer (whose main beam is in the foreground here) green scored 168 4/8 gross, 156 0/8 net. The 10-pointer grossed 138 4/8, and netted 136 2/8 green, while the 7-pointer grossed 119 0/8 and netted 108 1/8.

As Davis lifted the mass of horns above the water, the crew got their first inkling of just how remarkable a find this was.

So what happened to these poor bucks?

Burke, who has probably spent more time than anyone poring over the puzzle of intertwined beams and tines, has a theory. “Looking at the horns, it looks like the 7- and the 11-pointer were battling and only one side of their horns were locked,” he says. “Then the 10-pointer came in on the opposite side, and his main beam went around the base of each one of the other two deer’s antlers and his tines went up on the inside of their beams and locked them all three together.”

Damage to the creek bank and gouge marks on trees suggest the bucks locked up 50 yards downstream, then struggled together along the bank—half in and half out of the shallow water—until one of the bucks toppled into the deep hole where the deer were found. “I think one deer hit that hole and pulled the other deer into the water and they all drowned together,” Burke says. “Drowning was probably a good thing. The coyotes would have been on them in no time. I imagine they died full force, adrenaline flowing, battling it out.” “But there’s also a certain sadness that the lives of three nice bucks just ended like that. Three deer that any hunter would have put on the wall and told stories about.”

A find at once so gruesome and awe-inspiring provokes the imagination of even the most objective wildlife observers. It vividly illustrates the intensity of the drive behind the whitetail rut, and reminds us just how high are the stakes, how intense the drive to breed for mature bucks. Wildlife biologists are taught that anthropomorphism—endowing the animals they study with human qualities—is not good science. Yet, says Mike Tonkovich, deer project leader for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “I can’t help wondering what was that third buck thinking? Whatever possessed him to get engaged when the two were already entangled?” It’s a thought that Burke echoes. “Three alpha bucks coming together at once, I just can’t imagine how brutal that must have been,” he says.

The combatants turned out to be an 11-pointer, a 10-pointer and a 7-pointer with an eighth broken tine.

“It’s kind of neat to see evolution right there in front of you,” says Tonkovich. “This is Darwin stuff, what we learned in biology 101—those that are strongest and smartest will do the breeding. In today’s deer management world, our interest is in population dynamics or growing big bucks and age structures and so forth, but this takes you back to the basics of deer behavior and, even more simply, evolution and Darwin’s theory of natural selection.”

“What you’re seeing here is one buck trying to convince another that I need to pass my genes on and I’m gonna do what it takes to make sure it happens. This is a manifestation of that drive.” It’s also a reminder that sometimes the strongest don’t survive. “They didn’t plan this very well, that’s for sure,” the biologist notes. “But that also adds some realism to the whole thing—that in spite of the sophistication of evolution there are hiccups that cause the system to fall apart.”

“I guess it shows us how brutal Mother Nature can be,” says Burke. “It’s no Bambi story.”

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111 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention Three Ohio Whitetail Bucks Locked Together -- Topsy.com at 11:08 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ory Glauner, Trey Copeland. Trey Copeland said: Three Ohio Whitetail Bucks Locked Together http://t.co/FzCP4Co […]

  2. Whitetail Buck at 8:50 pm

    Amazing!
    Thanks for the excellent job of documenting this incredible find.

  3. Andrew Ebba Landicho at 12:09 pm

    Tragic for the deer, but such a rare phenomena that one can appreciate the story. specially with the authorities making sure that they checked out legit. Awesome pictures and great narration.Quite the unbelievable story. pictures and locked antlers to prove. Again… Quite a story.

  4. Samantha Sykes at 3:01 pm

    This same thing happened at my sons familys ranch down south fl. the two deer were at least 20 grand a piece though!! it took them about 2 hours to get them apart

  5. David Jamison at 3:38 pm

    Hey Outdoorsmen and women! Have you all seen this? Crazy!

  6. Andrew Ebba Landicho at 3:59 pm

    thats awsome Samantha. The deer cost 20 grand ?

  7. Cory Glauner at 4:26 pm

    Crazy!

  8. Rick Shmonster at 3:48 am

    Well it happens.

  9. Jeffry Templeton at 12:58 pm

    Wow

  10. Alex Paul TenWesteneind at 6:00 pm

    Would make a great chandelier.

  11. What are the odds?

  12. Brandon McGhan at 3:32 am

    wow

  13. Chuck Parrish at 3:19 pm

    wow neat

  14. Joe Maya at 3:43 pm

    I wonder what they did with them. I would have it made into a european mount.

  15. Erica Maya at 3:53 pm

    Amazing!

  16. Vince Barnett at 6:06 pm

    Wow , sad ending to three great bucks.

  17. Marc Driggers at 6:11 pm

    pretty cool

  18. hunting like a boss at 5:32 am

    crazy

  19. Trevor Stock at 6:15 pm

    awesome

  20. David Roehm at 12:14 am

    What is more amazing is it is true..fisherman and hunters are such good liars.

  21. Curtis Tenney at 4:44 am

    So interesting, the aesthics in the first photo….

  22. Curtis Tenney at 4:45 am

    aesthetics*

  23. Rick Martin at 5:34 am

    No worse than fangs, claws, disease or starvation.

  24. Cliff Gilchrist at 3:43 pm

    Three big deer locked together and drowned in a creek…a 120", a 150" and a 160" class buck.

  25. Anthony Bramlett at 2:08 am

    Terrible way for these brutes to end.

  26. Don Imhof at 3:34 am

    way cool. Seeing two deer locked like that is something most people would not see in a lifetime of hunting let alone three locked together.

  27. Don Imhof at 3:37 am

    Awesome find. Most people would not see two deer locked together in a lifetime of hunting let alone three

  28. Don Imhof at 3:49 am

    If you are a hunter or interested in game management you should check this out.

  29. Coulter Winchester at 7:20 pm

    Its sad that these 3 big bucks died like this (especially the 11 pointer) but its only nature. at least they drowned and didn't get eaten alive by something. such a rare find though.

  30. Brendon Cook at 3:35 am

    this never happens to me.. smh

  31. Tabitha Smith at 9:41 pm

    Me too. THat'd be pretty cool.

  32. Tabitha Smith at 9:42 pm

    slim…

  33. Pretty crazy thing to find…. what would you do with them?

  34. Brandon Martin at 3:39 am

    that is a once in a lifetime find.

  35. Awesome, sad, but would love to have that on the wall.

  36. Riley Williamson at 7:02 am

    that's nuts

  37. Jeremiah Osborne at 12:22 am

    wow.. what a way to go..

  38. Phil McMahon at 11:12 pm

    wow , that would have been crazy to watch when they were alive.

  39. Sarah Perlmutter at 3:00 am

    There's some scrawny young buck out there who now has his pick of girls since these three took care of each other!

  40. Warren Sylvester at 12:24 pm

    wow

  41. Heidi Anneliese Dieker at 11:04 pm

    Omg those poor deer 🙁

  42. Mike Palevich at 11:11 pm

    unbelievable. what a waist of three beautiful bucks!

  43. Curtiss Jayjohn at 12:54 am

    Wow that's too bad these fine bucks went like that but I have seen it before.

  44. Andy Fisher at 5:27 pm

    WOW

  45. Jordan Dyck at 4:15 am

    the guy who cut thier heads off should be shot you cant mount them now.

  46. Jeannette Stulen at 1:59 pm

    soo sad

  47. Ron Dunlap at 4:52 am

    wow, that was probably worse than taking a bullet!

  48. Amanda Friesen at 4:56 am

    wow that's crazy! nice bucks to!

  49. Doug Watkins at 3:47 pm

    3 nice bucks.

  50. James Paulsen at 5:09 pm

    You wouldn't want that mounted, the skin and fur was ruined from sitting in that water

  51. Mark Clark at 8:48 pm

    Neat story

  52. Connor Gehring at 1:01 am

    wow that is unbelievable!

  53. Michael Ryder at 1:23 am

    It would be easy enough to put new capes on them. They do it quite often expensive but not that difficult.

  54. Tony Racemus at 1:37 am

    That's what happens to three guys when they are after one broad.

  55. Jason Dehoey at 1:44 am

    thats so crazy ahaha

  56. Grace Gehring at 1:18 pm

    it is really something grandpaw would have like to seen this.

  57. Victoria Knutson at 1:08 pm

    So sad that that happened, but good find.

  58. Tim Caruso at 9:11 pm

    Dam I never saw 3 deer locked up like that. I seen two but wow I'm amazed.

  59. Ryan Brofford at 2:17 am

    saw these last year at deer expo. unbelievable

  60. Edmond Dantes at 7:15 pm

    that's FOOZY.

  61. Will Grindstaff at 4:54 pm

    so crazy! once in a life thing to see 3 bucks together like that.

  62. Boudy Wright at 5:17 pm

    crazy

  63. Tera Serrels-miles at 12:31 am

    wow

  64. Jason Ferguson at 3:45 am

    Amazing. Nice find.

  65. William G Heston at 8:40 pm

    WOW!

  66. David Burden at 2:33 am

    WOW……..

  67. Matt Wettig at 11:03 am

    Unbelievable!

  68. Steve Bresnahan at 8:50 pm

    While deer hunting I've come across two locked together, but never 3.
    http://americanoutfitterandguideassociation.com

  69. Thomas Rupp at 1:24 pm

    Amazing and sad.

  70. Ross Eric Banks at 9:40 pm

    wow.

  71. Nathan Bradly at 1:05 pm

    cool

  72. Dakota Turner at 4:22 pm

    cant beat that.

  73. Alee Velez at 10:58 pm

    wow this is crazy! what a find! I would of done anything possible to preserve that and mount it!

  74. Beverly Birt at 11:03 pm

    Wowaz is all I can say.

  75. Malinda Lambert at 11:43 pm

    At least they aren't like dogs and locked together on the other end!!! LMAO

  76. Kara Snow at 1:47 pm

    incredible

  77. Frank Lopez at 6:11 pm

    Never saw THREE together!

  78. wow this is nuts.

  79. Taylor Neveling at 5:15 pm

    My dad actually witnessed three bucks fighting it out in southern Virginia.. He shot one of them, and the other two dispersed, then tracked it. Finally when he found the one he shot, one of the same bucks had come back and was fighting with the dead one.. They are intense!

  80. Lance Kenyon at 3:43 pm

    Awesome.

  81. Shawn Teel at 5:35 pm

    That's pretty crazy.

  82. Ryan Moczygemba at 8:17 pm

    proof that women will drive men crazy.

  83. Fernando G. Semiao at 10:15 pm

    That's an incredible fight they all lost.

  84. Carlos Santos at 10:43 pm

    Great story

  85. Paul Santos at 3:02 am

    Wow, incredible and amazing with an unfortunate ending.

  86. Ray Pina at 2:20 pm

    WOW

  87. Doris Ann Zumbro at 10:15 pm

    Very interesting story.

  88. Beth Allie Shrivers at 12:51 am

    I can't imagine what their death would have been like if they had not fallen in the water. So the property owner will hang these antlers (all tangled together) over his fireplace?

  89. Doris Ann Zumbro at 2:20 am

    It's a guy thing, Morgan County 🙂

  90. Bridget Harrington at 12:50 am

    Wow.

  91. Tim Guentensberger at 5:54 pm

    what a loss of some prime meat.

  92. Atlana Arthur at 12:54 am

    Nuttin better then a threesum What….

  93. Ambré Cheá Jones at 6:28 am

    wow

  94. Ben Benson at 3:43 pm

    Wow, talk about an intense rut to get a third good size buck involved.

  95. J Tyler Ewing at 4:03 pm

    cool, very rare to find or witness, sure it's happened before.

  96. Kathleen Skocy at 5:17 am

    such a great find, but sad too.

  97. Ron Macdougall at 6:31 pm

    WOW, Now that is something you don't see!

  98. Jeff Sepulvado at 3:52 am

    once in a life time to even witness. what a shame.

  99. K&M Manufacturing at 6:17 pm

    For all you hunters out there, check this out.

  100. Steven Mapes at 8:30 pm

    THANKS FOR SENDING THIS. MEGGS CO. IS WHERE I HUNTED MY DEER. STARTED THERE WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL.

  101. Carly Lukas at 8:42 pm

    this is so bizarre but very interesting

  102. Carly Lukas at 8:43 pm

    Brandon Thom you should check this out….so incredible!

  103. […] PM by Content1 All District An intriguing situation discovered on a Ohio farm. Three Ohio Bucks Locked Together Thoughts? Reply With […]

  104. […] Three 200+Lbs deer documented as locking horns and drowning. Seen as an omen in some circles, and reminiscent of the German Rat King legends. Article here. […]

  105. This is a crazy one at 7:39 am

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  107. […] Unfortunately some don't make it… In this blog post three bucks get stuck together and then drown in Ohio. It's an unfortunate end to a seemingly more common situation. Thankfully there are hunters in the wild to help out more often than not… according to this compilation. View the Original Blog Post Here at GotHunts.com […]

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  109. […] raise it’s head. She grabbed her binoculars and looked at him, and saw that the buck’s horns were locked in the antlers of a dead buck. So she called friends and asked if they were up for an adventure […]

  110. […] even to its own kind, as for the lucky prospector what a great trophy find in both cases. This Ohio whitetail buck was very unlucky on this day. Ty Beal discovered the deer on a mushroom […]

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