A new twist on the phrase “Man versus beast”.

Wounded buck charges Hermantown bowhunter
By Sam Cook on Dec 19, 2016 at 10:00 p.m.
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Frank Jerks of Hermantown holds the head of a 10-point buck that he had to subdue by hand after originally shooting it with his bow. Sam Cook / scook@duluthnews.com
Frank Jerks had to make a quick decision Monday morning. A Hermantown resident taking part in the city’s annual bowhunt for deer, Jerks was one step away from the 10-point buck he had originally shot late Saturday afternoon.

Jerks, 48, thought the buck, bedded down, was near death Monday morning. He had an arrow nocked in his bow and was ready to dispatch it. He walked slowly to within a few feet of the animal.

“But it was like an electrical bolt hit him,” Jerks said. “He jumped up. I went to draw, and he jumped at me.”
The buck knocked the arrow off its position on Jerks’ bow. “It was fight-or-flight,” Jerks said.

He decided on the former.

“I sidestepped him,” Jerks said. “I stiff-armed him and drove his head into the ground.”

Jerks is a big man who says he weighs between 275 and 280 pounds. He picked up his arrow, the only weapon he had, and began trying to push it through the buck’s rib cage to its heart.

“He gave one good lunge and pushed me back 3 feet,” Jerks said.

But Jerks kept jabbing the arrow at the buck and was finally successful. The buck died beneath him.

“I was holding onto his rack and petted his head,” Jerks said. “I told him I was sorry we had to go through that.”

Jerks, who has been bowhunting since he was 16, said the arrow he shot at the buck late on Saturday had hit it in the shoulder. It wounded the deer rather than killing it. As bowhunters typically do after making a shot, Jerks did not pursue the deer immediately. Often, wounded deer will bed down and die more quickly if they are not pursued.

At 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Jerks picked up the buck’s trail and followed it until it entered a neighbor’s property. Jerks said he returned at midmorning and introduced himself to his neighbor, whom he had not met before. The neighbor gave him permission to track the deer.

Jerks located the buck and saw that it was still alive.

“I didn’t have anything to shoot him with, so I backed out,” he said.

Later on Sunday, he returned with his bow and an arrow and tried to shoot the buck, but his arrow deflected off the thick brush where the buck was lying, and the shot missed, Jerks said. He returned Monday morning with the bow and several arrows but never got a chance to shoot the buck before it leaped at him.

Jerks said he didn’t second-guess his decision to grapple with the buck when it came at him.

“I thought it was pretty crazy,” he said. “But (earlier in life) being an athlete and a counselor, my mind works quick. I knew this animal had to be put down. I couldn’t walk away from it.”

He estimated the buck weighed between 170 and 180 pounds after it was field-dressed. He suffered no injuries in subduing the buck, he said.

He felt the original shot he had made on the buck was well-placed.

“Everything in life can be humbling,” Jerks said. “As much as I shoot, I felt good about (the shot), or I wouldn’t have shot.”

He had passed up a shot at the same buck earlier in the year, he said, as well as shots at an eight- and a six-pointer.

He took the buck to Chalstrom’s Bait and Tackle for processing. The buck’s hide had three or four cuts in it, John Chalstrom said, indicating places where Jerks’ arrow had penetrated during the struggle.

Unconventional as Jerks’ actions were, it is permissible to dispatch a deer in the manner that he did, said Brent Speldrich, Duluth district enforcement supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“I don’t know that there’s anything illegal about it,” Speldrich said. “It’s a wounded animal. If it charges you, at that point you do what you have to do.”

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