tree stand safety

Oklahoma game warden Carlos Gomez. KELLY BOSTIAN /Tulsa World file

Game warden Carlos Gomez, a 40-year veteran of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, shared a favorite tale from an incident in the 1990s in north Tulsa County.

This account is transcribed from an interview on opening day of deer season, Nov. 23, 2019.

Gomez and another warden are hiding in the grass on the north side of 66th Street North between Mingo Road and Memorial Drive with a mechanical deer decoy planted in a field about 100 yards to the south of the road. Gomez is operating the electronics on the deer to move its head and tail.

“ we’re hidin’ in the weeds and here comes a car and the car skids to a stop, literally almost goes a little sideways, a little rooster tail of gravel and dust.

And this deer doesn’t move, standing there a hundred yards away.

So, we’re waiting for them to shoot, but they don’t shoot, they jump out of the car.

The deer, of course, doesn’t move.

They pop the trunk. One of the guys is standing on the car door jamb, hands on the roof of the car and so he’s the lookout. He’s checking around, looking for trouble.

Well, the other guy is getting in the trunk and he starts loading a rifle. It’s like a .30-30 lever action, and he ain’t loading it with a bullet to shoot that deer — he’s loading it with seven bullets to shoot that deer!

Ka-chink, and he’s looking at the deer, ka-chink, he’s looking, ka-chink and he’s looking at this deer.

He’s got the gun to six rounds, seven, almost loaded up, and about that time here comes a pickup truck coming head-on to meet this car.

The car is facing eastbound, he’s coming west, and the guy that’s a lookout yells ‘There’s a truck comin’, there’s a truck comin’!

And the guy is like, ‘cha-chic, cha-chic, cha-chic’ and bullets are flying out onto the road and he about gets the gun unloaded, and about that time the truck — which is not a game warden — skids to a stop. The cars are like, 20 yards apart.

And I guess that guy saw the first guy stopped, thinking ‘What’s he doing?’ thinking ‘There might be a deer ... oh look, there’s a deer.’ So he stops.

Meanwhile, the deer still hasn’t moved a lick.

The second guy jumps out with a bolt-action rifle and he’s starting to walk up to the fence and he’s got bullets he’s digging out of his pocket, and he’s trying to load his bolt-action rifle.

And the guy who’s the lookout on the door jamb says ‘He’s going to shoot your deer!’ You better get it, he’s gonna shoot your deer!’

He’s yelling this at the guy standing at the trunk, so the guy starts grabbing bullets and he’s reloading and it’s, ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink...

And they both race... it’s like a TV game show. They both race up to the ditch and they both start unloading on this decoy.

The deer has never moved and they’re just a-loadin’ and a-bangin’ away!

It’s funny because they’re both loading and they’re both looking at each other like, ‘How far along is he?’ you know, ‘Who’s ahead of who?’

They’re not looking at the deer — they’re watching each other to see who’s going to get loaded first.

And so they both literally shoot at the decoy and then we jump out out of the weeds ...”

Long story short, the men were cited by the wardens where they stood on the road — as other cars reportedly drove by slowly, and looked at the wardens, and the men, and at the deer, but they kept driving.

And the deer never moved a lick.

Kelly Bostian


Twitter: @KellyBostian