TREMONT — An ice fisherman out on Hodgdon Pond Wednesday, Jan. 8 spotted a deer that had fallen through the ice.
The Maine Warden Service received a call around 11 a.m. about a deer that had fallen through the ice, outside the Acadia National Park boundary. A man who lives near Hodgdon Pond made the call after his son, who was ice fishing on a different area of the pond, told him about the deer.
“Outside of where they were, the ice was not safe,” said game warden Camden Akins, who was assisted by rangers from Acadia National Park in rescuing the deer. “They did the right thing by calling us.”
Two park rangers joined Akins in accessing the pond from the national park road and providing rescue equipment. Rescuers estimated the deer was about 30 yards from shore. In order to get to the animal, Akins donned a dry suit and attached himself to a safety line.
With the dry suit on, Akins could not feel the frigid temperature of the water.
“Honestly, I felt a little overheated,” said Akins. “Moving through the ice is pretty exhausting. I never once felt the cold when I was in that suit.”
Someone not wearing a dry suit in water that cold could quickly begin to struggle, he added.
Using a rope, the rangers and warden were able to pull the distressed animal out of the water and onto shore.
“It definitely was alert that we were there,” said Akins. “It was kind of in fight or flight mode. It was really cold, after a little time it regained its strength and ran off.”
It is not clear how deep the water was where the young buck fell in.
“Hodgdon Pond in and of itself is not a very deep pond,” said Akins. “The deer couldn’t touch the bottom where it was.”
Reports of items falling through the ice are not that unusual in his line of work, but this was the first time Akins had rescued a deer out of a frozen body of water.
“I’ve been on three years now and that’s the first one I’ve been to,” said Akins. “That’s the thing about this job. You never know what you’re going to end up doing.”
Park rangers went back to the area last Thursday to check on the deer, according to Akins. Tracks leading into the woods were a positive sign that it was doing okay.
Both the park and warden service encourage caution when going onto ice covering any waterway. Conditions can vary greatly from one body of water to another and change from day to day.
“This is a worrying time of year for me with everyone venturing out on the ice,” said Akins, noting upcoming ice-fishing derbies. “Any time you have a body of water with a current, the ice can vary significantly.”