A conservation police officer, state trooper and forest preserve officer were all called out to try free the bucks in Illinois last week.
The pair had become dangerously entangled during a fight and could be seen kicking and writhing in a bid to free themselves on the video, filmed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
“He’s worn out, he’s going to give you a shot,” one of the officers can be heard saying as they circle the bucks looking for an opportunity to shoot without harming either animal.
The shooter sees an opening and fires his first shot but it takes another three bullets to separate the antlers completely.
One of the deer then runs quickly away while the other hobbles off with a noticeable limp. The men can be heard discussing the possibility of putting down the animal if it is injured. It is not known if the animal survived.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources told the Daily Mail newspaper that in cases such as this the deer would die if they could not free themselves.
‘Fights among male deer are common and occasionally their antlers become entangled,” the spokesperson said.
“Sometimes the deer are able to free themselves…sometimes not, and in those instances we have found deer which become locked together and perish before someone comes along to find and possibly free them.”
Despite likely saving the deer’s lives, the shocking video drew a divided reaction when the department posted it on its Facebook page.
Rather disappointed and shocked,” Laura Hedien wrote in a comment on the video.
“As a proud supporter of PETA, I am appalled at this video. The officer should have comforted the deer prior to shooting at them,” another commenter, Mark Dorencz, wrote.