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Published: Thursday, 10/20/2005

Kmart finds a buck stops here in more ways than 1

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

DEFIANCE - A four-point buck shopped at the Super Kmart here Tuesday evening until he dropped; well, was dropped.

The deer walked up to the south entrance of the store about 6 p.m. and the automatic doors opened, just as they would for any shopper.

The buck jumped over a display of plants and headed to the men's department, where he knocked over a rack of coats and thoroughly surprised a woman looking at a sweatshirt.

"We all just had to do a double take because we couldn't believe our eyes," Christy Harsha, the store's operations manager, said.

After his initial gallop into the store, however, the deer appeared to have a hard time keeping his footing on the store's tile floor.

"It looked like poor little Bambi skating on ice," Ms. Harsha said.

But he managed to make his way to furniture, where a customer started chasing him. They went through the do-it-yourself and automotive departments before getting to the layaway desk, where the deer jumped over the counter and stayed in that small area.

Defiance County Dog Warden Randy Vogel arrived within a few minutes and shot the deer in the hip with a tranquilizer, causing it to drop to the floor.

He jumped on top of it, along with the deputy dog warden, a Defiance police officer, and a Kmart employee, and the men spent 20 minutes wrestling with the 150-pound animal.

When they got its feet tied with rope, they loaded it on a Kmart stock cart and took it outside, where Mr. Vogel shot it.

Procedures call for killing deer that have been tranquilized. That's to prevent a hunter from shooting the deer and processing it for human consumption while drug residue might remain in the meat, Mr. Vogel said. Bow season is under way. The deer's carcass was taken to a landfill.

It's not unusual to see deer near the north edge of Defiance, where the Super Kmart is. "There's like a run through there," Defiance police Assistant Chief Tim Tobias said, adding that he saw 15 to 18 deer in the area that night. "It goes right from city to rural in that area."

Tuesday was the second time in five years that Mr. Vogel was called to remove a deer from a public place. A couple years ago, a much smaller doe broke through glass to enter Defiance Junior High School.

But at Kmart, this week's deer entry caused no damage and many shoppers weren't even aware it was in the store.

"Just the employees were a little shook," Mr. Vogel said.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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