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Doing the right thing

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Bill Spece, at left, works to remove the heads of two deer found recently by Caleb Kizer, of Fort Dodge, while deer hunting in the Boone Forks Wildlife Mangement Area. Spece helped him retrieve the antler locker deer and issued him the needed salvage tags so he could keep his find.

STRATFORD — Doing the right thing — for the right reasons — isn’t always the easiest course of action.

For Fort Dodge’s Caleb Kizer doing the right thing turned into an adventure and a chance to eventually mount an unusual set of deer antlers on his wall.

Kizer found two deer locked together by the horns while deer hunting in the Boone Forks Wildlife Management Area on Halloween.

He spotted them, while he was doing the right thing.

He had hit a deer and he was tracking it. The track took him across the Boone River, where he spotted the antlers in the water close to the other bank. The two deer were caught against the roots of a large tree that had fallen into the stream.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Caleb Kizer, of Fort Dodge, helps guide Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Bill Spece as they make their way up the Boone River.

Then he did the right thing again.

He left the deer in the water and called Iowa DNR Conservation Officer for Webster and Humboldt Counties Bill Spece.

“He’s doing it the right way,” Spece said. “People think we take them. We don’t. Call us, we’ll help you out.”

Kizer doesn’t consider the Iowa DNR an adversary.

“You’re a resource,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Caleb Kizer, of Fort Dodge, at left, along with Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Bill Spece work to remove the antler locked deer Kizer found while deer hunting at the Boone Forks Wildlife Managment Area.

What happened next was that Spece decided to help Kizer retrieve the deer so he could be issued a salvage tag and legally keep the antlers.

Finding two deer locked together is rare.

“It’s not common,” he said. “We get several every year in the whole state.”

It’s rare because the deer usually don’t keep up their fight too long and the odds of two sets of antlers having just the right shapes to interlock, are slim.

“Usually somebody wins, somebody loses,” he said. “Then they go their separate ways.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Caleb Kizer, of Fort Dodge, stops to take a cell phone picture of the heads of two antler locked deer he found recently while hunting in the Boone Forks Wildlife Management Area.

Getting to where the deer who didn’t give up died wasn’t easy, the area is accessible in one of two ways. Hike in or go by boat up the Des Moines and Boone River.

Spece supplied the boat, the expert navigation and the time. Kizer helped navigate around the shallow parts and the piles of trees and other debris washed into the streams by the summer’s high water.

The trek was filled with the pleasant conversation of two hunters on a river surrounded by beautiful scenery.

The deer were smelled way before they were seen.

“I can smell it,” Spece said from several hundred yards away.

Time in the river does not make for a pretty picture, a wonderful smell or an easy to handle pair of animals. The best solution proved to be tying them to the boat and moving them across the river to a shallow sandbar.

Both were well developed mature bucks with beautiful sets of antlers.

Spece and Kizer hoy to work. Due to the condition of the animals, the only realistic option was to remove both heads and leave the carcass for the coyotes.

Each cut from Spece’s sharp knife release a fresh wave of decay. Bits of hide separated and floated away. It was not a pleasant job. He had to stop several times for fresh air.

Spece did it anyway — for the right reason.

To help a hunter who did things, the right way.

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