UPDATE 8:45 A.M. JUNE 28, 2013: The Squaxin Tribal Council has issued an apology on the incident.
A disturbing video posted this week to the Facebook page of a south Puget Sound man appears to show paddlers in two long cedar canoes pursuing a blacktail buck in a saltwater inlet near Shelton, one man taking a swing at the deer with an oar, and two others dive in to capture and ultimately slit the animal’s throat.
A caption with the video says it was shot off Squaxin Island during what is described as a “practice pull.” The post gives the date June 26, 2013, 1:21 p.m.
It had been shared 105 times as of 4:30 p.m. today, drawing comments of revulsion as well as 14 likes.
The caption also terms it in part “2013 story of the year,” and it may be, but for all the wrong reasons.
We left a message with a local tribe’s spokesman, who had been tasked with the issue, to determine more about the incident, but he had not returned our call as of late afternoon.
We also understand that the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is investigating.
Deer often swim between Puget Sound islands and the mainland. Because it was not immediately clear if the hunt was legal or was legal but distastefully performed and recorded, we are not going to name the person who posted the video, nor provide a link to it until we learn more.
However, we will describe what we saw:
The 12-minute, 16-second video first shows one canoe, with approximately eight crew members, chasing the deer. It is joined by a second with six members.
For 7 minutes the buck is able to outfox its pursuers by changing directions, but it begins to tire and the oarsmen aboard the otherwise ungainly craft soon have the advantage.
The second canoe pulls alongside, a paddler rises up and slashes down at the deer with his oar.
The deer continues to swim away, but less than 2 minutes later the canoe closes on the deer again, a man dives in and appears to attempt to drown the animal.
As the first canoe closes on the struggle, a man from it who had been seen earlier in the video handling a hunting knife, dives in and assists.
They bring the deer to the side of the second canoe. At the 10:26 mark there are whoops of joy.
The buck thrashes a time or two. Bright red blood stains the sound.
The video ends.
Warning: Disturbing screen grabs from the video.