GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - David Johnston typically uses a bleat box to hunt deer. But on Thursday, he used it to save one.
That evening, Johnston heard the bleats of a fawn in the back of his Gulfport property. After 30 minutes of searching, he and his son found a baby deer tangled in vines in flood waters from Fritz Creek.
"The last time we heard the fawn bleat it was actually swallowing water, and just the little head was sticking up," Johnston said. "We got it just in time."
Johnston tried using his hunting call to get the mother's attention, but it didn't work. So, he called wildlife experts.
"It's just instinct. You want to do right by nature, what God's blessed us with."
Although it could be days, maybe weeks, before rescuers try to reunite him with mom, "Bucky" is doing just fine at Wild at Heart Rescue.
Bucky makes the sixth fawn over the last few weeks to be rescued by Missy Dubuisson of Wild at Heart Rescue - one other also from a near drowning.
"There's no telling how long that baby was tangled in those vines and fighting in that water," Missy said. "That definitely takes a toll on their body. Physically exhausting when you're trying to swim and to be tangled in something, calling for your mom and nobody to help you."
Bucky will be treated with antibiotics to prevent any lung infection before rescuers attempt to reunite him with his mother. If that doesn't work, he will be kept at the center until he's old enough to be released on his own.
Johnston usually hunts deer in Greene County, so he doesn't think he'll be crossing paths with Bucky under different circumstances.
"I hope not," Johnston said. "But if one comes licks me on the chin while I'm hunting, I'll know not to shoot him."
Dubuisson says it's illegal to keep wild animals without a permit, and that not all abandoned fawns need to be helped. She adds that the best way to know if a rescue is necessary is to send a photograph to center for evaluation.
For more information, visit the center's website: www.wildatheartrescue.org.