-By Randy Cooper
I was saddened to find out that on Sunday, Oct. 7th here in Cherokee County 66 year-old John Frix was attacked and killed by a red stag. Family members reported him missing on Sunday night to the Cherokee county sheriffs’ office. A responding deputy found Frix’s body inside a pen where the Red Stag was kept. Family members said that the deer had been acting aggresive for the last few days. The red stag is native to Europe and can grow to more than 400 pounds. Frix loved to raise exotic animals on this ranch, "The Trail of Tears." Among the animals he raised were buffalo, llama and red stag. The one that gored Frix was estimated to weigh more than 200 pounds. The deer was later killed. The Department of Natural Resourses personnel said the deer was in rut.
This is a grim reminder that the deer we love so much to pursue can be deadly dangerous during rut. I know of two other cases where hunters were rattling antlers on the ground and whitetail bucks charged them. One of the men was a guide I met at the Atlanta Buckarama a few years ago. He said he was rattling for a client on a Texas hunting ranch when a big 8-point buck charged from the brush. The charge was so fast and violent that the guide couldn't move out of the way and the buck hit him full force in the side. The guide showed me the scars from the antler punctures that broke two ribs and punctured his left lung. After hitting the guide the buck ran off.
The other case was in Georgia where a hunter was late getting to his stand during rut. When he got close to his stand he noticed deer chasing each other in a hardwood bottom. He decided to sit with his back against a tree and try rattling one of the bucks closer to him. He went through a sequence and was about to put the antlers down when he heard crashing right in front of him. Instinctively he grabbed his gun just as a nice 9-pointer broke from the brush with his rack down at a charge. The guy was scared out of his mind and in a panic shot from his lap at the buck. The shot hit the buck in the chest; it went down and skidded to within a few feet of where the hunter was sitting.
Bucks full of testosterone with necks swollen and thinking only of breeding are some of the most dangerous animals in North America during rut. Hunters should never put any kind of estrous or territorial infringment type lures on them or near their set up if they are on the ground. These men found out the hard way just how quickly things can go wrong. If I'm going to use a lure for hunting I put it on a drag rag at the end of a string and walk down a known trail near my stand. When I get within 20 yards of my stand I make a wide circle into a shooting lane. I want the bucks attention on the scent and off of my location. Be careful during the rut when using calls or scents this season. I shutter at the thought of what a 200-pound, 8- or 10-pointer could do to you if he charged with everything he had. The red stag didn't have any kind of sickness or disease; he was doing what Mother Nature programmed him to do. My prayers go out to the Frix family.