During a ride on her fox trotter horse in late December, Sarah Anderson, 23, came across a sight she won’t soon forget. Two large whitetail bucks with interlocked antlers were lying dead among 30 feet of torn-up brush. “I looked around and could see hair everywhere,” said Anderson, as reported by USAToday.com. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
While Anderson’s first thought was that the deer were killed by poachers, upon closer evaluation she realized the scene was evidence of a ruthless battle. Not only were the bucks’ antlers entangled, but one of their necks was broken, proving they likely had fought to their death. After snapping a few pictures, Anderson rode back to her cousin John Densmore’s farm, where she keeps her horse, and the two picked up neighbors Dene and Sue Lenhnen—the third-generation owners of the Montgomery County, Mo., property where she found the deer.
Dene Lenhnen contacted an agent at the Missouri Department of Conservation and got permission to keep the two bucks, which were still fresh enough to be mounted. “The bigger one, a 12-pointer, was only dead for about 24 hours. Coyotes got him too, but most of him was left. He probably watched coyotes eat up the other one before he died and knew what was coming. He just wore out,” Dene Lenhnen, 57, told USAToday.com.
Infatuated with what he saw, Densmore took several photos. “It was quite a bloody scene, the coyotes certainly had a field day,” he said. “There is a stand about 40 feet from where the bucks were found that I sat in about three times over rifle season this year and only saw does.”
The Lenhnens have tasked taxidermist Randy Hamilton of Mexico, Mo., to create a corner mount of the deer interlocked in the same position they were found, and the couple has already picked the perfect spot for it in their home. After scoring the antlers at 155-¼ and 150-¾ inches, Hamilton got to work untangling the antlers to work on each deer. Dene Lenhnen told USAToday.com that he expects the entire process to take about six months.
While two bucks getting into an altercation isn’t uncommon, a scene like the one Anderson came across is certainly not something you see every day. “It was amazing,” recounted Densmore. “I wish I could have been there to see the fight myself.”