A Surprising But Sad Harvest: Whitetail Buck Caught in Combine

In addition to feeding in standing cornfields, whitetails will often use them for bedding cover, too. And occasionally a deer’s instinct to hide rather than flee costs the animal its life.

A Surprising But Sad Harvest: Whitetail Buck Caught in Combine

Photo above right from Galvin Steele Facebook

Each fall during the corn harvest in the Midwest, images appear on social media showing whitetails that have been caught in a combine. If you’re not informed when it comes to farm machinery, a combine is used to harvest corn. (Click here if you want a detailed explanation of how a combine works.)

At the front of the combine is the header, which cuts off the corn stalks. In between each shroud in the header are teeth that grab the cut corn stalks and then pull them into a spinning auger. In the photo above (right), it’s clear this big buck’s legs are caught in the teeth and he’s lodged against the auger. At the time this 2021 photo was taken, the buck was alive.

According to farmer Galvin Steele’s Facebook post, “Sadly, the buck had to be killed. The combine cut his front legs off. I had to call the sheriff to put him down. It was one of the bucks I watched all summer. He was laying and holding tight in a patch of downed corn, and I guess wasn’t gonna move at all costs. I didn’t see him until he was in the corn head due to the dust.” 

As you can see from the corn harvest photo below, this horrible ending to a whitetail’s life happens more often than you might expect. 

Every animal uses its instincts to determine when to flee vs. hide when faced with danger. Whitetails, more than any other big game animal in North America, have the ability to hide, even when a predator is close. This is one of the primary reasons whitetails have flourished living so close to humans (think suburbs) when other big game animals are forced to relocate. As these photos prove, however, whitetails sometimes hide a bit too long.

Photo from Collin Engelhart Facebook
Photo from Collin Engelhart Facebook
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