Indiana Fish & Wildlife Authorities will never know exactly what happened, but it appears a wounded Hoosier State buck gored Paul J. Smith, 62, when the hunter tried to finish the deer off with his knife.
Details were released in an Indiana DNR report:
According to Conservation Officer Erick Bolt of DNR Law Enforcement, Smith called his son shortly after 9 a.m. and left a voice message that he’d shot a buck. When Smith’s son returned the called around 10:30 a.m., Smith told him that after descending from his treestand to field dress and tag the deer, he discovered the deer was still alive. Smith told his son he scuffled with the deer before killing it with a knife.
Cpl. Bolt said Smith called park officials by cell phone at about 12:30 p.m. to request help in transporting a deer to the reduction hunt check-in station.
A park employee who went to retrieve the deer found Smith unconscious and seated against a tree and relayed Smith’s condition to park officials. Chain O’Lakes property manager Sam Boggs and Indiana Conservation Officer Darren Reed immediately responded. Reed was off duty but at the park as a participant in the deer reduction hunt.
Reed and Boggs attempted to revive Smith with a portable defibrillator but got no response. They initiated CPR until EMS first responders arrived and pronounced Smith dead at the scene.
The coroner’s autopsy revealed lacerations on Smith’s liver that were in line with internal bruising and likely the cause of death.