Avid bowhunter Evan McAnally makes no apologies for his sportsman’s lifestyle, filling his freezer every deer season with the meat of animals he’s shot in the wild. But when he happened upon a whitetail buck in need of rescue, he was moved by a deeper instinct, that of sympathy, to do what he could to help.

Last month, after driving to the hunting ground his family owns in Stafford County, Kansas to set some food out for the deer and to check on some camera traps, McAnally spotted what appeared to be two dead bucks on the ground, their antlers tightly interlocked from the throes of a fierce battle. One of the animals had been stripped to the bone by coyotes, while the second looked uninjured.

As McAnally drew closer, the buck stood up and made a hopeless attempt to flee, made impossible by the dragging weight of the other’s corpse. It didn’t take long for the hunter to put together what had happened.

“It was quite the sight, what that one buck had endured,” McAnally tells the Wichita Eagle. “I tried to put into perspective what that deer had already gone though, being locked with the other buck and then the coyotes eating it right there.

Though he could have easily ended the deer’s life, ending its misery and adding to his venison supply, McAnally was struck with another idea.

“I really wanted to free it if I could,” he says.

McAnally, who often films his hunts, positioned his camera phone to record the rescue -- moving in slowly to keep the distressed buck calm. When he was close enough, he tried to extricate the exhausted animal from its dead counterpart with his bare hands, but the struggling animal’s antlers were too interlocked to get them separated.

[Warning: graphic images]

“It kind of kept pulling away and I kept kind of talking softly and petting its neck a bit,” says McAnally. “I’m not sure if that really helped.”

He eventually returned to his truck and grabbed a saw. After removing several tines off both the sets of antlers the surviving buck was finally freed from an ordeal that may have lasted nearly a week. McAnally then watched as the animal disappeared into the woods, looking to be in good shape.

Even after saving buck’s life, the bowhunter’s sympathies for it have yet to fade. Though he does plan on returning in the fall to hunt, McAnally says he’ll think twice before targeting any animal he runs across, saying he doesn’t think he has it in him to shoot the buck he rescued.

And although he drove home that day having forfeited an easy opportunity to add a trophy to his mantle, McAnally’s kind actions towards the buck earned him a different sort of reward.

“We kind of have a connection,” he says.