Toby Taylor hand-raised his pet fawn, from bottle-feeding all the way into a 100-kilogram stag. Yesterday he was in Hawke's Bay Hospital after the animal rammed and gouged him, then leapt on to a quad bike to continue the attack.
Taylor needed surgery after the Sunday morning attack and joked from his hospital bed yesterday that 6-year-old Cole could soon become venison sausages.
Taylor, who lives nears Wairoa, was given the fawn, who has since become an 11-pointer stag. "You could scratch him behind the ears and he would lie down like a dog," he said.
Cole got a partner and the pair had fawns of their own. Taylor said he would normally never go into Cole's cage around mating season but on Sunday the animal appeared "nice and quiet" so Taylor went into the paddock to get to his boatshed.
At first, Cole was happy to be patted but then a fox terrier started barking and chasing the stag, which turned the tables and began chasing the dog.
Suddenly the dog was hiding behind a quad bike and the stag was rising up on his back legs above Taylor, who grabbed the front legs and "wrestled" him.
Cole walked away, then turned back with his head down, charging towards Taylor, pinning and ramming him against the bike.
Taylor got free and ran around the bike with Cole in pursuit. "He jabbed me up the butt . . . then pinned me up against the boat."
Inside the boat, Taylor found a stick to whack the stag with, fending him off for enough time to jump on his quad, but Cole "wasn't finished yet" and also jumped aboard.
"I took off and he fell off."
It wasn't until he got home, about 400m from the paddock, that he realised how badly he had been hurt. One of the stag's tines had gone 10cm to 15cm into his thigh above the left knee. He was also punctured in a buttock, breast and shoulder.
His son Kurt, 20, who had just finished a first aid course, put on a tourniquet. St John Ambulance took him to Wairoa, from where he was flown by Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter to Hawke's Bay Hospital, and emerged from surgery at 2am yesterday.
He was full of praise for all the "brilliant" medics who helped him.
He said it was only by luck that he did not have his two younger sons - Hugh, 11, and Will, 9 - with him when he went into the paddock. "If I had one of them with me, I wouldn't have got out. I would have had to stay and fight him."
Taylor was discharged from Hawke's Bay Hospital to go home yesterday. Cole's fate is rather more uncertain. The ideal option would be to find a new home for him, Taylor said, but "the paramedics and helicopter pilot wanted a few venison sausages".
- The Dominion Post