BOUNTIFUL, Utah — A Utah woman is calling on families to be more "wild aware" after a deer attacked her son in a Bountiful neighborhood Monday.
”A deer walked up behind me and it hit me,” the boy can be heard saying in a cellphone video.
“You’ve got deer snot, it put a hole in your shirt,” his mom responds as her son sobs.
The video captured the aftermath of a moment 11-year-old Mitchell Call will never forget.
“I wonder if that’s teeth?” another person chimes in as the sleeve to Mitchell’s shirt is lifted, revealing a puncture wound larger than a pencil eraser.
It was taken just seconds after an unlikely wild animal encounter left him injured and scared.
“It’s so round, wow,” the third person continues.
Mitchell was walking down an alleyway in Bountiful Monday afternoon, just off 2400 South behind South Davis Junior High, when it happened.
“I heard these running footsteps come towards me, so I jerked my head around and I see these horns and these ears and then the next thing I know, I’m on the ground,” Mitchell said as he reflected on what had happened.
A deer had gouged him with its antlers, one puncturing his back and another puncturing his arm.
“He was just, very shaken… and this kid does not get shaken and shocked,” said Mitchell’s mother, Julie Call. “He was just lying on the ground like, ‘a deer just hit me,’ and lifted up his shirt and showed where it had punctured his arm.”
Having grown up in the neighborhood, Julie said she was shocked something like this would happen to her son.
“I was just surprised a deer would be in an area where there are so many people so frequently,” Julie explained.
“Deer, I don’t think, are usually aggressive like this,” she said in disbelief.
According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), residential areas along the foothills, such as Bountiful, are no stranger to wild animals, deer included — but Julie was right about the aggression.
“It’s very uncommon,” said DWR Northern Region outreach manager Mark Hadley. “Typically, wildlife try to do everything that they can to avoid people.”
And this deer had a different story.
DWR received a call Tuesday morning, alerting them to the same deer which had remained in the area near South Davis Junior High School.
“This particular animal, its leg had been broken, we think it had been hit by a car,” Hadley explained. “So, any animal, when it’s injured, if you get too close to it, you run a risk that the animal will get aggressive.”
Typically, if a wild animal is posing a threat to a residential area, DWR will trap the animal and relocate it. However, given the injury, DWR said they had no choice but to euthanize the animal and donate the meat.
“When an animal has a broken bone like that, they’re not going to recover from that, so euthanasia is the best thing to do for the animal,” said Hadley. “It’s not right to take an animal that’s suffering and go take it somewhere and let it loose.”
DWR said the animal was donated to a Utahn who had signed up for the organization’s Game Meat Donation — a program which ensures the meat from poached or euthanized animals does not go to waste.
And while the threat may be gone, the shock is still there — two puncture wounds, heavy bruising, a tetanus shot and three stitches later.
“[Mitchell’s] lucky he didn’t get stepped on or something,” said Julie.
“Or jabbed again,” Mitchell chimed in.
Now, they hope other families will exercise extra caution so this type of thing doesn’t happen again.
“It kind of scares me that something like that could happen to somebody else,” Julie said.
“They’re dangerous,” she continued. “Just be aware of your surroundings.”
DWR asks that anyone who may have been attacked by an animal or sees an injured animal that could be a threat, report it to them immediately so they can assess the situation.
You can find more information on how to handle different wildlife encounters online at wildawareutah.org.