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Battling trophy bucks drown in St. Joe River


Talk about a fish story. Two men go steelhead fishing and return with two trophybucks without taking a shot!



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January 01, 2011
On the morning of November 4, 2010, two Berrien County fishermen set out on the St. Joseph River, in search of Steelhead and instead ended up catching a couple hundred pounds of venison. Scott Stoney and Bryan Ammeson were cruising the river in Scott's twenty-foot enclosed Jon boat when they noticed a man and his dog running down the river a little after 8 A.M. Their attention was then diverted into the woods where they saw two whitetail bucks engaged in a fight.

"It was an intense battle and the two bucks were simply beating the crap out of each other. The bigger of the two actually threw the littler deer airborne on more than one occasion. We weren't watching long before we realized that their antlers were stuck together. At one point the bigger buck threw the little one on his back and ran up a hill. The bigger deer eventually bull-rushed the littler one down a steep embankment and into the water." commented Ammeson.

When the bucks entered the water the two fishermen noticed that the smaller buck was struggling in the water so they closed in and attempted to nudge the deer back ashore. When they got close the panicked deer attempted to get into the boat so they backed away. The weakened smaller deer soon died and the remaining bigger buck was struggling to remain above water with the literal dead weight of the other deer dragging him down. Scott adds, "The struggling deer quickly got into deeper water and soon drowned."

Nature can be very cruel and these two men witnessed a real life "Marty Stouffer Wild America" moment. Scott and Bryan chose to salvage the dead deer and take them ashore. "We attempted to load them into the boat and that simply was not happening. I have no idea how those guys on that show Swamp People load those big gators into their boats. We then just roped them and dragged them ashore with the assistance of two trappers who were also on the river" stated Bryan.

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Once ashore Bryan attempted to call the DNRE and another person called the police. A police officer came to the river and issued permits so that the men could legally possess the deer. While ashore Bryan and Scott, with the assistance of two others, untangled the antlers and were shocked at the size of the trophy racks. The smaller of the two was a trophy class 10-point and the bigger buck was a huge 17-point that has two impressive drop-tines. Bryan said, "When we got them untangled we discovered that the 10-point had a hole in his neck and it looked like he was speared with one of the drop-tines from the 17-point."

Whether that deer died from the goring or from drowning was not known. While ashore a crowd of about twenty people gathered and it didn't take long for others to share recent encounters with these two trophies. A neighbor of Bryan's told him that he had missed the 10-point with a bow two weeks ago and another person stated that they had trail camera pictures of the 17-point. A lady informed Scott that she had seen the two bucks that same morning at 7 a.m. entangled in the Oaks sub-division.

Scott and Bryan took the deer to a processor so that they can utilize the meat and plan on having the deer mounted with the antlers inter-twined and hanging them in "The Fishin Hole" bait shop in St. Joe Michigan. Bryan added, "When the deer were skinned it was discovered that the 17-point dressed out at 198 pounds and had a broadhead lodged in his shoulder. The 10-point dressed at 174 pounds."

Talk about a fish story. Two men go fishing for steelhead and return with two trophy bucks without taking a shot! Bryan got about 30 seconds of video footage from Scott's phone which shows the tangled bucks fighting and entering the water. Bryan summed up the occasion by stating, "It was a Wild experience!"

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