Schneider: Bucks lock horns, die in area pond (photo appears at bottom of article)
CHARLOTTE - Rod Snyder gave up hunting a long time ago, but today he's in the market for a taxidermist worthy of a rare and dramatic mount.
Snyder owns the inseparable heads of two magnificent whitetail bucks - victims not of a hunter's bullet, but of mortal combat with each other.
The two bucks - a 10-pointer with 16-inch tines and an eight-pointer with 12-inch tines - locked antlers while sparring over breeding rights. Their battle evidently took them deeper and deeper into a 10-acre pond that rests partially on Snyder's property in Charlotte. Eventually, they got in over their heads and drowned.
On the morning of Nov. 22, Snyder's neighbor alerted him to a grisly spectacle - the two bucks floating on the surface of the pond. Snyder, who had visited the pond earlier, estimated the bucks drowned between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
He put on waders and dragged the two deer ashore. After realizing he had a rare find on his hands, he phoned the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to ask if he could keep the deer - for both the meat and the mount.
Snyder, a retired GM employee, said he spoke to a DNR law enforcement official who told him that, since the state's deer hunting season still is in progress, he could keep the deer, as long as they were tagged with legal licenses.
A friend of Snyder who held two such licenses tagged the bucks and claimed the venison.
I learned from DNR officials Wednesday morning that Snyder was misinformed. Said Sgt. Jackie Waber, in the law enforcement division: "It's unlawful for any person to tag a deer he or she did not kill."
What should have happened, Waber said, is that an officer, after confirming the bucks died accidentally, should have issued Snyder a permit to keep them. That's what happens with a deer killed by a vehicle.
"There was no need to waste the license tags," Waber said.
Since Snyder was acting on the advice of a DNR official, he won't be held liable, Waber said, nor will the man who tagged the deer.
Snyder said both deer were larger than average. Because their antlers are permanently locked, they were field dressed and loaded onto a truck that way.
The heads will be mounted as they are, but Snyder hasn't figure out yet where they'll hang.
Meanwhile photos of his find are getting posted all over the plant where he once worked. "I'm the talk of GM," he said.
What do you think? Call John Schneider at 377-1175 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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