Gerald Dabiew Jr. said he feels lucky to be alive after a near 20-minute battle with a 10-point buck last Friday during which he was repeatedly slammed to the ground by the powerful animal.
"I have never been so scared in all my life," the 56-year-old said about the harrowing ordeal that transpired near his remote home in Moira - a small community at the northern tip of the Adirondack Park outside Malone.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," Dabiew said in a low voice, then added "... and I never want to see it again."
Dabiew said the story unfolded as he was collecting firewood along a log road behind his home. It was early afternoon and clear skies made the job more bearable as he tossed small chunks of wood into the bucket of a skid steer he owns.
A lifelong native of Moira, Dabiew said he paid little attention when a large buck crossed the road in front of him.
After all, he'd seen plenty of deer in the woods near his home, but the sequence of events that was about to play out was something Dabiew had never seen, or heard of before.
"They don't usually walk right up to you, but this deer was coming right at me," he recalled.
At 30 feet, the buck lowered his antlers and charged.
Knocked to the ground and fighting for his life, all Dabiew could think was he had to defend himself or the deer was going to kill him.
"So I fought with it. I wrapped my legs around its neck and locked my arms and hands in its horns and squeezed for all I was worth as it pounded me into the ground," he said.
Minutes seemed like hours as the huge buck continuously picked Dabiew's 230-pound frame up atop its head and slammed him to the ground, driving him into rocks and stumps.
Exhausted, Dabiew said it was all he could do to hold on, but he was sure the deer would gore him if he let go and adrenaline kept him battling on.
Luckily, Dabiew said he wasn't the only one getting tired.
"He was tired himself, slowing down and breathing heavy," Dabiew said. "He couldn't move his head without moving me with it."
Eventually, however, Dabiew could hold on no longer, and his grip on the antlers slipped. As he fell backward, he kicked at the deer, causing it to rear up and rake the side of his face with its hooves.
Then, Dabiew saw his opening.
"After that, he walked a few feet away, stopped and just stood there looking back at me. That gave me time to pull myself into the skid steer. I wasn't about to stick around for anymore," he said.
Bruised, bloodied and covered in mud, Dabiew used his cell phone to call for help. X-Rays showed no broken bones, but Dabiew was left with cuts and bruises all over his body as well as a gored right hand.
"I'm black and blue from head to toe," he said.
A longtime corrections officer at Upstate Correctional, Dabiew said he doesn't scare easy.
"But I knew this thing was trying to kill me," he said. "That is a feeling you never forget."
Dabiew said he cannot speculate what might of provoked the buck. He said a friend suggested the sound of the wood hitting the inside of the skid steer's bucket might have sounded like antlers rattling together.
The sound of two bucks fighting often makes a dominant buck aggressive - especially during breeding season, which happens in November in the Adirondacks.
While Dabiew said he has never hunted, he said he'll think twice before going back in the woods unarmed - especially during breeding season.
"Who would think that the thing would do something like that," he said. "That deer was pissed."
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsmen. His column appears regularly. For more articles by Gereau, checkout his Blog at www.denpubs.com.