A love-struck buck ran out of luck a week ago. The seven-point buck was killed when it rammed a 640-pound concrete statue of an elk in the backyard of Mark and Carol Brye's home in rural Viroqua.
Bucks often fight during the breeding season, commonly called the rut. Dominant bucks defend breeding territories and female deer by sparring with subordinate bucks. Antler battles sometimes result in the death of one or both deer, but usually end with the biggest buck winning and the smaller buck high-tailing it out to another area.
Mark Brye, who owns Brye Plumbing in Viroqua, was still laughing about the suicidal buck he found near his elk statue last week.
Brye said his morning ritual is to rise early and look out at the life-like statue about 40 yards from his home.
"Our son and daughter gave it to us for Christmas four years ago because we like to hunt elk," Brye said. "The elk is a nice thing to see every morning. It looks pretty cool, especially on a foggy morning."
Brye said he knew exactly what happened when he saw the statue tipped over. Although they were about the same height, the statue weighed at least three times more than the 180-pound deer.
He didn't realize the buck lay dead a short distance away.
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"I could tell the buck poked the statue a couple of times by the chipped paint on it," Brye said, adding that the buck eventually rammed it like a mountain goat.
The buck apparently staggered about 20 feet and fell.
Brye claimed the buck with a tag from the Vernon County conservation warden. He laughed at the warden's tag note: "lawn ornament fight - lost."
Brye said the deer shattered its skull. The antlers were still on its head but were dangling.
"The statue is OK, but the antlers broke off when it tipped over," Brye said. "One side of the antlers is in one piece, but the other side is in five pieces."
Brye, 58, is considering removing the antlers from the unlucky buck and gluing them on the elk statue as a remembrance of the strange but true story.
The deer is butchered and in Brye's freezer. The elk remains on its side.
"I can't tip it back up until I get a whole bunch of guys to help me," he said.