Day I nearly drowned when hunting


Active member
Jul 16, 2018
Its amazing how you look back on hunting moments that can define yourself for better and worse. One of the worse moments in my hunting career came when i was about 20 years old and thought nothing could hurt me.

Some background:
Hound hunting for deer takes you through all sorts of country, high mountain ranges and down into big river systems, if dogs are on the other side of the river chasing deer then we do whatever it takes to get across regardless of air and water temperatures.
If you can find a tree thats fallen across then its a win but most of the time you are walking or swimming across and the air temps are often around 0-10deg CC and the rivers somewhere around that as well.
You then have to put up with wet clothes for most of the day which is why nearly everyone where polyfleece now as its quick drying and even when wet you stay warm if you are moving about.

This day we had chased a few deer around and one had bailed up in a river with the dogs barking their heads off so i got on the radio and told the team i was headed in to despatch the deer.

I got into the river and its pumping as we had a lot of rain, it was about 15 yards wide and the deer was standing right in the middle of the water with the dogs on the bank just roaring!. Just downstream was a little island jutting out of the water about 4 yards in diameter and my brain put into gear an action plan.

I leapt onto the island from the bank as it was only a short gap from the bank, I then joined a couple of dog leads together and tied one end off to a stout branch on the island and left it ready to grab.

My plan was to shoot the deer, hope it jumped out of the river and expired on solid ground. Failing that if it just fell over i would grab it as it came down to me and hook it with the dog leads to stop it floating away.

So I strip off my radio, knife, jumper and i line up on the shoulder and go bang with the 338 win mag and the deer just goes down like a sack of potatoes, no jumping about, just straight down so i quickly put the rifle down and wade out into the river to grab it as it comes to me and this is where it all starts to go wrong.

The water got deep real quick and i was upto my waist, when i grabbed the deer it had a bit of speed from the current and bowled me over, so i grabbed hold with 1 hand on the lead and 1 hand on the deer leg with my head bobbing above water. The shock of the cold water was really something to get you going!!

My superior brain thought i could just haul myself, and a 150kg deer upstream with 1 arm but alas my bicep curls in the gym did not have the desired effect and i was effectively stuck in a holding pattern and my brain going a bit of a "you dumb c*nt" so i moved to letting go of the lead and floating downstream with my deer hoping i could steer it towards the bank somewhere and then climb out.

As mentioned the river was pumping and no calm banks were found and I started to bob along the bank and i grabbed the first branch I could hanging out which basically put me into the same situation as the dog leads but now i had the water pulling me under the branch as the deer had gone under it and i also had my glasses still somehow stuck to my head which i need to actually see further than 30cms....

The water being freezing cold had started to really sap my strength as i had probably been in it for a couple of minutes now and although not deep i couldn't force my legs down to be able to stand up due to the current and i really thought i was in the sh*t.

So i was flat on my back looking up at the sky / trees with the water trying to drag me under a small log holding onto the deer and I was just about to let go and save myself when a face appeared in my view and yelled hold on and don't let the deer go, Ronnie one of our other crew members had made his way in and he seen me go down with the deer and was chasing along the bank trying to catch me.
He quickly got a lead around the deer and tied it off, he then plucked my glasses off my face and i was able to slip under the log and pop out the other side and he helped drag me from the river a very cold and wet individual.

Never having experienced cold water immersion for that period of time i was amazed at how quickly your strength can be sapped and have been vigilant ever since!

Not sure how long i lay on the ground for gathering myself but i was a good 5-10 mins before i was able to stand and then we managed to drag the deer out of the river and then some extra help arrived and we all dragged it the 300 meters back out to the road before i was able to get changed into some warm dry clothes.

I got a good bollocking from my uncle who was the crew leader to not do anything stupid like that again and have since learnt my lesson and approach bailups in rivers in a more refined approach nowadays :)

Something to teach my kids about when they are older as well.

Stay safe!


Well-known member
Feb 10, 2020
That’s crazy glad you made it out safe hunting deer with hounds sounds like a good time

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