Hunter Killed by Deer He’d Shot that Got Back Up and Attacked Him

wounded deer attacks kills hunter


By Eric Pickhartz

Authorities and wildlife officials with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have reported the death of 66-year-old Thomas Alexander, who shot a buck near Yellville with a muzzleloader.

“I’ve worked for the Game and Fish Commission for 20 years, and it’s one of the stranger things that’s happened,” said Keith Stephens, the Chief of Communications with the agency, according to

When the hunter approached the downed deer he’d just shot, it apparently attacked him, inflicting a number of puncture wounds. Alexander was able to call his family after the attack, who called emergency responders, but the hunter died later at a hospital.

Here’s more on the story from KY3 News . . .

“I don’t know how long he left it there, but he went up to check it to make sure it was dead. And evidently it wasn’t,” Stephens said. “It got back up, and he had several puncture wounds on his body.”

It’s still unclear if Alexander indeed died of the puncture wounds, or whether it was another cause, such as a heart attack.

“It’s my understanding there’s not going to be an autopsy, so we may never know what actually happened,” Stephens said.

Arkansas has seen one other similar incident, from four years ago, in which someone got stuck by a buck’s antlers. “It was pretty significant, but they did survive,” Stephens said.

As most deer hunters know, it’s vital to be fully aware and prepared when approaching a downed game animal. Typically, you should allow about 30 minutes of no movement before approaching it.

Be careful out there.


  1. avatar jwm says:

    When you step out of your house you become part of the food chain. Last week while hunting quail I had a mountain lion encounter. Thankfully he gave ground.

    1. avatar Bitter says:

      Thank goodness,
      My dad told me some years ago as He and I were tracking an elk that a rather large coyote was stalking up on me and he had scared it away.
      I must have been completely oblivious because I didn’t know until he told me later in camp.
      I assume it was a coyote but there are also a handful of Mexican wolfs in that particular area of New Mexico.

      1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        “I must have been completely oblivious”

        No shame on you, cougars sneak up on stuff for a living. They’re ghosts if they don’t want you to see them.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I’ve had eyes on cougar and bob cat, at fairly close range, and still did not hear a sound. They are amazing.

        2. avatar Joel says:

          One my coolest hunting experiences was walking up on a bobcat feeding on a dead deer. I was able to get within 7-10 yards before he/she realized I was there and then it calmly, quietly, and quickly disappeared. I deabated shooting it, but I wasn’t after a trophy, I was meat hunting. Besides, I enjoy watching wildlife in its natural habitat more than I do harvesting game. I’m a terrible hunter. 🤨

    2. avatar rosignol says:

      You’re part of the food chain at home, too. Especially if you have bedbugs.

      1. avatar Merle 0 says:

        Or a brown recluse. That’s a hell of a bite right there.

      2. avatar Lynn says:

        Lol! Or fleas 🙂

      3. avatar jwm says:

        Let’s not forget being married. 🙂

    3. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

      You certainly do; although in nature it’s more of a food web, since predator/prey relationships aren’t always strictly linear.
      Neverthless, position on the hierarchy has been categorized through a taxonomy called the trophic scale; trophic stemming from the Latin word for food, if I recall.

      The scale runs from 1 ro 5, out to one decimal place. Level 1 are producers, meaning organisms that produce their own food from the environment; mostly plants. Level 2 are the herbivores who eat the plants. Levels 3 and 4 are carnivores who eat the herbivores and eat plants, too. Level 5 is the highest. Those are your apex predators. Nobody eats them, at least not in their prime. Others might take down an aged or sickly specimen, but that’s at the end of their life cycle.

      Where do humans rank? About level 2.2 or so. As endowed by nature, we can eat plants, but our prey skills only go so far: bugs, wild eggs, whatever we can manage to catch despite being slow, relatively poorly sighted, and minimally armed with pathetic teeth and nails.

      We share that ranking with pigs and some fish. The only things that allows us to punch above our weight are our technology and capacity for reasoning, which are interrelated. I’m guessing a blackpowder rifle in a man’s hands and the will to live on the buck’s part is a more balanced bout than people might realize.

      1. avatar Neil says:

        Do not forget we also tamed an Apex predator, the wolf/dog. Between the dog and cooking, we developed enough time to develop better homes, bows, the sewing needle and other Technologies.

        The pairing of us with the dog made us an omnivore Apex predator.

        Am I a bad person for admiring the deer for defending his kind? I’m pro-hunting, partially as it teaches that life is a web, not a pyramid.

        Beware of that marriage, a tangled web there.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        Although certainly most modern humans rank around a 2, in our physical prime, an adult male human ranks as one of the most capable predators on earth, right up there with the largest wolves. Since our ancestor, Homo Erectus, we have had the ability to run down and kill (with our own stone tools) any adult quadruped on earth, save only the largest of species.
        It is important to recognize a few things.
        1. Modern humans are weak because they can be. But our bodies are capable of incredible endurance and power.
        2. The strength of the wolf is not the claw or the fang. The strength of the wolf is the pack. Humans, too, are social animals. By doing what our species is good at, even in a “natural” state, we can, and have, taken down any animal on earth. We can track the decimation and elimination of apex predators throughout history by the introduction of pre-historic man into their environment. Humans have always been particularly brutal on apex predators. We hunt them, and we out-compete them as well.
        3. Individually, only the largest of the apex predators, such as the African lion, Asian tiger, and the larger bears have a solid chance of killing an adult male human in prime physical condition. And even then, it’s if we are alone. Humans in their “natural” state were rarely alone.

        “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” ― Socrates

        1. avatar Stuart K says:

          Good points, we’re definitely soft compared to our potential. We haven’t been hungry in so long we largely forget how brutal, violent, and cunning we can and had to be.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          A man just ran a marathon in less than 2 hours. That’s 4 and some change minute miles, for 26.2 miles. That is, by the way, faster than most horses can run the marathon.
          We have a phenomenal potential.

        3. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

          You’re not running down rabbits, squirrels, etc. Don’t be silly. By mentioning stone tools, unless you mean literally stones picked up off the ground and used as is, as opposed to combined with other materials and fashioned into specific weapons, then you’ve incorporated man’s ingenuity and technology into the equation. That’s moving the goal posts of the discussion, which is limited to the species as is. Regarding man as an apex predator is just wishful, fanciful thinking and runs contrary to the science of the field.

          Now, with regard to horses and men and running over distances, that’s an interesting point which I am glad you made. Not many would think of that and would conclude incorrectly if they dead. After all, most people’s experience with horses is limited to T.V. and the movies. A horse can go full gallop for only a few miles, fewer than five. Even Pony Express riders kept having to swap out fresh horses such that they averaged maybe ten m.p.h., plus or minus depending on terrain, temperatures, rider skill, etc.

          That’s slower overall than the recent record breaking marathon runner, to be sure, but that’s one world class professional athlete, with modern nutrition and training, over open pavement without obstacles/threats/distractions, who was completely and utterly exhausted at race end. That’s not representative of anything in a natural or prehistoric environment. Let’s not forget what happened with the original marathon runner. Running such distances, let alone at such impressive paces, is not repeatable as a matter of daily hunting.

        4. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Jonathan-Houston, I’ve run down dozens of rabbits, a couple of deer, and plenty of pigs. Running down wild pigs was a common task for children 100 years ago. It’s not a superhuman feat.
          Of course we should include human ingenuity. To not would be like not including a shark’s teeth. That’s why I specifically mentioned Homo Erectus, who made stone axes, ran down zebras and all forms of antelope, and killed them. We were making axes before we were making clothing.
          The reality is that man (as a species) became, and remains, the apex predator on the planet.

        5. avatar JW says:

          Props on the Kipling quote

        6. avatar BusyBeef says:

          Every time I feel like turning down the speed on the treadmill, I hear David Goggins yell at me, call me a pussy ass bitch, and turn the speed up.

          According to Goggins, we’ve got at least 20% more in the tank than we think we do.

          Unfortunately too many of us don’t view physical exercise as a necessity like showering or brushing our teeth.

          Those are the people I will probably eat first after wild game and pets run out.

  2. avatar TommyGNR says:

    Wonder if the Bucks eyes were closed or half open. I was taught that if the deer’s eyes are closed its not dead yet. You either wait or hit it again.

  3. avatar James Wilson says:

    Bring enough gun.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Also, bring *another* gun. Rifles harvest game. Handguns save lives.

      1. avatar Merle 0 says:

        Yep. Always a good idea to have a handgun on you while you hunt.

      2. avatar What would Spock say says:

        A great idea but unfortunately my state and I suspect others don’t allow for pistols on person while hunting. I suppose some idiots at some point were tempted to use them instead of their bows or muzzys and ruined it for everyone.

    2. avatar Arc says:

      Poke it with a stick or give it another love tap from a pistol.

  4. avatar BlazinTheAmazin says:

    Gotta aim for those vitals…

  5. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

    “Mess with the bull, get the horns…”

  6. avatar Connie says:

    This is why the founding fathers gave us the second amendment.

    >sarcasm intended<

    1. avatar Ton E says:

      The deer will rise against us!

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    Zombie deer? The mind boggles.

    1. avatar kahlil says:

      He didn’t follow Zombieland rule #2, the double tap.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Double tapping with a muzzle loader. Now that’s a process. ;).

        I wonder if he was using flintlock, cap and ball or inline? I have a hunting buddy that uses a break action inline. He has plastic tube ‘speed loaders’ that help a little.

      2. avatar Arc says:

        Just whap its neck with a machete, quick kill.

      3. avatar ropingdown says:

        It would have been sufficient and sensible for the guy to reload his muzzle loader before approaching the downed deer. Absurd, really, that he didn’t. What was he going to do? Kick the thing?

        1. avatar Arc says:

          Well, legally its “muzzle loader season” so killing the deer with a machete or a boot to the head could be construed as illegally taking a deer or taking a deer out of season, since the ultimate cause of death was something other than a muzzle loader, even though the muzzle loader did most of the damage.

          Kinda like that one case with that lunatic SEAL who stabbed a kid. . . technicalities. I feel like a Vulcan now. . . I need a drink.

      4. avatar Anonymous says:

        Yep, bring a pistol for a “Coup de grâce”

  8. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    They say “it”s the thrill of the hunt”!
    Do I kill it or does it kill me? Hunting any animal the same size as you or larger than you has risks.

    Now is that part of any hunter’s education course?

  9. avatar RCC says:

    Not into muzzle loaders and I know they are nuisance to unload. But I was taught reload, come to the side (nearly everything will try to go forward) then touch the animal with barrel and if it flinched pull the trigger again. Works with any animal dangerous or otherwise.

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      Not into muzzle loaders and I know they are nuisance to unload.

      Probably the easiest way to unload them is to just pull the trigger. Instantly unloaded!

    2. avatar Charles Perry says:

      Exactly what I was taught and what I taught my sons. I would never approach a downed deer without a loaded firearm at the ready.

  10. avatar Dan says:

    Sometimes you get the deer and sometimes you get the horns.

    1. avatar Jabberwockey says:

      Antlers not horns. 👍

      1. avatar Jr says:

        Oh no! Someone used a slightly incorrect term in the spirit of making a joke! What will we do?!
        Look! Its captain pedantic here to save the day!

        1. avatar Dennis says:


  11. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Hey, at least he died doing what he wanted to be doing.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Yup. Like him I’m in my 60’s. If I clock out on a hunting or fishing trip it is a good way to go.

      Hell, any way you go is better than wearing a bib and diaper in a nursing home.

    2. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “Hey, at least he died doing what he wanted to be doing.”

      Well, I’d like to die while in the close proximity of a nice rack, just not *that* kind of rack… 😉

    3. avatar Ralph says:

      “at least he died doing what he wanted to be doing”

      Bleeding from multiple sharp force injuries?

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        “Bleeding from multiple sharp force injuries?”

        Hey, the deer wanted to make sure the hunter “got the point.”

        A bunch of them…

        *snicker* 😉

    4. avatar Dan says:

      Something tells me that when he had those horns up his ass he wished he would have stayed home that day.

  12. avatar Lance Manion says:

    Sometimes you’re the windshield…sometimes you’re the bug.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      You know what the last thing through a bug’s brain is when he hits your windshield?

      His asshole.

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    Bambi’s revenge😖😢

  14. avatar EWTHeckman says:

    Deer can be amazingly resilient. I shot a buck at close range and it went down immediately. After 3 or 4 minutes it tried to try to get back on its feet and crawled for about 50 yards. When we field dressed it later we discovered that my shot had completely destroyed its heart. I would not have thought that possible.

    1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      Oh yeah. Even with only residual oxygenated blood and ATP, adrenaline seems to be one helluva drug.

    2. avatar In for a Penny, In for a pound says:

      That can also happen with humans, which is why a downed threat with the weapon in their hand, is still a threat.

  15. avatar Hannibal says:

    I’ve never gone hunting with a muzzleloader but I would imagine it would be a good idea to carry a handgun, just in case. Maybe that’s not legal there?

    “It’s my understanding there’s not going to be an autopsy, so we may never know what actually happened,” Stephens said.”

    seems like the purpose of an autopsy would be to find out what happened but I guess now I know how to stage an ‘accidental death’ in that area where it’ll never be investigated…

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “I’ve never gone hunting with a muzzleloader but I would imagine it would be a good idea to carry a handgun, just in case.”

      Any SXS muzzleloaders back then?

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Yes. sxs rifles and shotguns and combo guns. I’ve seen photos of stack barrel front stuffers also.

  16. avatar James W Crawford says:

    Step on its antlers to hold down while you slit it’s throat.

  17. avatar strych9 says:

    “Arkansas has seen one other similar incident, from four years ago, in which someone got stuck by a buck’s antlers.”

    So that was the sequel. That makes this, what? Bambi III: Retaliation?

  18. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    See? With a 30 round magazine that hunter would still be alive today. Swiss Venison, anyone?


  19. avatar Dennis says:

    A PETA conspiracy!!!

  20. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Typically, you should allow about 30 minutes of no movement before approaching it.

    I have never waited for a deer to be still for 30 minutes. When you shoot them properly in the heart/lungs with an adequate broadhead or caliber/bullet, they will be dead within 30 seconds or less. (In my experience they are down and lights-out within 10 seconds.)

    Regardless, I always approach a downed deer cautiously. From a distance I look for an entrance and/or exit wound to verify proper shot placement. I also look to see if the deer is breathing.

    If you put a marginal shot on a deer: absolutely wait a bit, at least 10 minutes.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Waiting 30 minutes is ridiculous. 1) you’re letting a potentially wounded animal suffer for up to 30 minutes and 2) you’re losing 30 minutes to dress the animal and prevent spoilage. Reload the gun, approach from the rear/spine, which would be the hardest direction to move, and look for signs of life. Either poke the eye with the muzzle and be prepared to fire again, or put another shot in the brain just to be sure.

  21. avatar Ogre says:

    Most states have “minimum caliber” regulations (.45 cal being the usual minimum) for muzzleloading deer hunting. Nothing was said in the article was said about the caliber used by the hunter on the deer. Was he using a rifle or a smoothbore? A peashooter squirrel rifle or a big-bore? And where was the deer hit by the hunter’s shot? Just because a hunter is using a large-caliber ball (or buckshot) is no guarantee if the deer isn’t hit in the vitals. I agree with others on the way a downed buck should be approached (carefully!).

  22. avatar Truckman says:

    well I am a neck or shoulder shooter and have been hunting ever since was 14 years old and everyone I put down stayed down but have always after I got one carried a handgun usually just a 22 revolver but never had one get up not saying it won’t happen still trying to hunt just 65

  23. avatar thomaspaine says:

    In our neck of the woods a game warden was attacked by a buck deer and he then ran into a pond to escape. He later drove himself to the hospital and died.

    In another local incident a man who was raising European Red Deer was dumb enough to go into the pen (during the rut no less) to show his buddy some of the deer when a buck attacked both of them. Both raced for a tree and one of the men was pulled out of the tree as he climbed it by the deer who bit him in the pants and pulled him to the ground and killed him. Meanwhile a high school teenager had just come home and the other man in the tree yelled for help. The teenager ran home and got his single shot shotgun but had no ammo so he had to run to the neighbors house and they only had one shell. He then shot the deer and killed it by poking the barrel through the fence.

    In another incident (this one on TV) another dumb ass who was raising deer was asked by another man if he could test a deer call so the two idiots went inside the cage during the rut no less and when one of them blew into the call the buck attacked one of the men. One of the men hit the deer over the head with a folding chair and the buck was so strong it lifted the man right off the ground when attempting to gore him and then the buck ran out the gate which the dumb asses had left open and the man’s children were playing in the yard but luckily the buck just wanted to escape, which he did.

  24. avatar NORDNEG says:

    Two stories about deer attacks, my dear old dad rest his soul, shot a big buck in a place called Scappuse, Ore, he got to the buck & cornered it where it had no where to go but at him, he charged (being shot with a 308) & all my dad could do is move or be gored, He lost the deer but kept his life, another storie, same place Scappuse, our friend a full blooded American Indian had a farm & liked to drink whiskey would clime on top of his barn with a knife after he baited the ground below the barn & wait for deer to come feed, then he would jump on top of them & proceed to slit their throats, he stopped after he missed the mark one day & got gored. True story, my dad & me found him the next day almost dead from blood loss. He proceeded to hunt with a 22 rifle after that,,, crazy dude. But a nice guy.

  25. avatar moreadventuresonotherplanets says:

    Since everyone is telling hunting stories here is one I read about in the Book “The Rifle and the Hound in Ceylon” by Samuel Baker.

    In the late 1800’s Sam was out hunting birds when he chanced upon a bear trail. He knew that by the tracks it was the dreaded Sloth Bear who often is known to kill people to this very day although there numbers now are at the extinction level.

    Sam had one problem he only had shot shells with him not slugs, and not buck shot. He then took out a shell (made of heavy paper back then) and cut two semi-circular slits around the circumference of the shell leaving only enough paper to barely hold the shell from coming apart in two pieces the idea being that on firing the front half of the shell would separate from the main body and fly through the air like a solid slug would. When Sam finally found and stalked up on the bear (naturally from above) he let fly with his modified shell and killed the bear. If he had not he would not have lived to tell this story.

    Sam had a special custom big hunting knife made for him in England that he ordered by post. It was more like a short
    Roman Gladius than a knife. Sam used a knife instead of a gun when hunting deer as he did not want to risk hitting his hounds with a firearm. It was not without extreme risk of getting gored by the cornered deer (usually standing in the middle of a stream to fight off the dogs). Sam used 3 types of dogs on the hunt. The blood hounds that trailed the deer, the greyhounds that ran the deer down and finally the “seizer’s” that were of some pit bull breed that would grab the deer either by the ears or by the muzzle to let Sam rush in and stab the deer to death. Sam hunted wild boar in the same way.

  26. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

    I remember reading a story – maybe ten years ago or so – about another hunter who approached too soon. This time, the deer flailed about and struck the hunter in the chest with (I think) both of its rear hooves. I don’t remember if it broke his ribs (seems an almost certainty) but the man did die from the blunt force trauma.

    Personally, if I ever go deer hunting, I’m bringing a long, long feather duster to go “cootchie-cootchie-koo!” under the deer’s chin. If it giggles, I’m blasting it again!

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Be careful of that long feather duster. You might get mistook for an ostrich and shot by mistake.

  27. avatar john clark says:

    He died from “natural causes”!

    1. avatar jwm says:

      It’s natural to die from being gored.

  28. avatar MIO says:

    As we all head into the woods this fall there are things to remember for safety.
    Always approach a downed animal from the back not the legs.
    Reload before approaching and lead with the weapon. You will never regret hunting an animal like it’s the most dangerous thing on the planet but you will regret complacency.
    Always let someone know where you are, when you are expected back and try your best to have a communication device that works in that area.
    Carry gear, clothing, food and water because things happen.

    I wish y’all luck in not only the kill but the hunt and what it brings.

  29. avatar Dave Loar says:

    I shot a big muledeer in the head with a .45 cap and ball muzzle loader and dropped him immediately. As I walked up on him he got up and tried to run but he was blinded by the impact of the ball and kept tripping over downed trees. By the time I reloaded he got his vision back and took off down the hill. Never found him.

  30. avatar enubus18 says:

    What a great day for the animals, some bastard hunter got what s coming to him! Karma is a bitch. May the so-called hunter burn in Hell! Too bad Cecil didn’t get that bastard dentist.

  31. avatar Will Drider says:

    Allow 30 Minutes before approaching? Nonsense! You chamber another round or reload the muzzle loader. That and the approach time should allow a few minutes. You check for a sign of life observing and response by tossing a branch or rock on it from a safer distance. Then you can get close enough on the animals back area. Poke with muzzle.

    Why would anyone attempt to confirm dearh without the means to immediately kill it?
    Stupid acts often result in the worse potential outcome.

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