While Tom Satre and his family were cruising on their boat in the Taku Inlet in Alaska, they saw four deer swimming towards their boat.
The young Sitka black-tail deer were in distress, cold and tired from battling 2-foot white-capped waves.
The wind was strong in the Inlet, and the deer were desperately looking for somewhere to go. They were over a mile (2 km) from the shore. Tom and his family saw the deer were close to drowning and decided to help.
“They swam right toward the boat,” Tom said. “Then they started to circle the boat. They were looking up like they needed help.” Tom knew they had to get the deer out of the water if they were to survive, but how?
“I formed a lasso with the mooring line and dropped it around their heads one at a time,” said Tom. “They were about 85 pounds (39 kg), sopping wet. We were fortunate to have a low swim step at the stern, and I was able to pull them onboard. If we had to haul them over the side, I couldn’t have done it.”
The deer willingly came onboard and just laid on the deck. Because one of the deer was hypothermic, Tom massaged him to warm him. “The last one was in really poor shape. He was very hypothermic. I massaged him for 20 minutes trying to warm him up. He bleated like a little lamb. I think he was appreciative.”
Tom’s sister Sharon Kelly, his daughter Anna and brother Tim helped him with the deer. It was an hour journey to the shore. By the time they arrived at Taku Harbor, the deer had warmed up. One quickly jumped onto the dock and found its way into the forest.
The deer who had been hypothermic had to be put in a wheelbarrow to be taken off the boat.
With the deer safely on land, the family called the experience a “defining moments in life.”
Tom Satre runs Alaska Quest Charters eco-tours from his boat the Alaska Quest and this story was printed with his permission.
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