man on boat trying to free deer in water from a volleyball net

Kelly Moore removes volleyball net from struggling deer.

Back in October, Kelly and Kathy Moore turned into guardian angels on what started out as a leisurely pontoon ride to celebrate his birthday. The day on Lake Lanier with their dogs became a dramatic rescue of a large buck that had become entangled in a volleyball net.

“We had beached on an island near the American Legion and the dogs were running around on the beach when Kathy yelled for me to come see the ruckus in the trees,” said Kelly, a Gainesville native and avid boater. “We could both hear the loud noises of something thrashing through the woods.”

“The dust was flying then all of a sudden we heard a huge splash and saw a deer with his antlers all tied up with a large volleyball net,” Kathy said. “He must have jumped about 15 or 20 feet to get into the water. Then it started sinking and was really struggling.”

The two of them sprang into action, driving their pontoon close enough to snag the net with a boat hook and bringing the deer, which had rolled over on its back, close enough for them to try and free it.

“All we had was a wine opener with a little tiny knife because we had just cleaned out our boat,” Kelly said. “We must have worked for about 45 minutes, struggling to keep the deer’s head above water while sawing away at the masses of volleyball net. Finally, Kathy convinced me to call our friend Jimmy Davis, who lived nearby and ask for help.”

Jimmy was busy but dropped what he was doing, still it took him about 30 minutes by ski boat to reach the island, where Kelly and Kathy had continued to try to free the deer that was quickly becoming exhausted. From the video that the Moores sent to Lakeside, it was also obvious that Kelly was also getting tired from kneeling on the swim deck and holding onto the deer.

“Jimmy brought out a pair of scissors that saved the day, but it still took a while to cut all the lines of the net so the deer could swim away,” Kelly said.

Once freed, the deer swam back toward the island with only a couple of pieces of the net on his 5-point rack, got back on shore then turned to his rescuers.

“He just looked back at us for about 10 seconds, like he was saying ‘thank-you,’ Kelly said. “If we hadn’t seen this with our own eyes and made a video, no one would have believed this would happen.”