Buck illegally penned for half a year before attacking farmer
FERTILE, Minn. - "Billy," the Fertile Journal reports, "was a bad buck."
But he wasn't born that way. He apparently went bad when he was wrongfully incarcerated.
The combative whitetail deer that stalked and brazenly attacked a Fertile area farmer in early August was an "escapee" from a pen on a nearby farm, where it had been held illegally the previous seven months, the Journal reported this week, citing information from another weekly newspaper, the Norman County Index.
Mark Christianson shot the buck after it cornered him near his farmhouse southeast of Fertile, went on its hind legs and pummeled him, leaving the 66-year-old farmer with black eyes and bruises.
The man-vs.-deer boxing and wrestling match drew plenty of media attention, as well as speculation about what caused the deer to act so strangely.
A conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources investigated the incident and filed a report with the county attorney, who declined to charge Christianson with a crime for breaking off the hand-to-hoof combat, grabbing his rifle and shooting the animal.
"The deer attacked him," Norman County Attorney James Brue said last month. "It was a pretty justifiable shooting."
Christianson earlier had reported the deer's unusual behavior, hanging around the farm and not running off despite loud noises made by Christianson and his wife, Judy.
Laboratory tests on the carcass showed there was nothing physically or neurologically wrong with the eight-point buck.
During the course of its investigation, the DNR received a tip that another area farmer had kept a deer in a pen since January. Selmer Aanenson, 68, Bejou, Minn., pleaded guilty Sept. 5 in Minnesota District Court in Ada to unlawful possession of a wild animal, Brue said. He was fined $185.
Aanenson lives "about a mile as the crow flies" from the Christianson farm, according to the Journal, which also reported that the farmer still feels the effects of the unusual bout in a knee, shoulder and eye.