Kevin Nelson, at right, and his father, Mervin Nelson, stand next to a mount of two deer whose antlers were locked together. The two men witnessed the 12-point buck dragging a dead eight-point buck on their farm between Mabel and Spring Grove. The two obtained a special permit to harvest the deer, which was not able to eat or drink because of the position it was in. CRAIG MOORHEAD/NEWS-RECORD
Kevin Nelson, at right, and his father, Mervin Nelson, stand next to a mount of two deer whose antlers were locked together. The two men witnessed the 12-point buck dragging a dead eight-point buck on their farm between Mabel and Spring Grove. The two obtained a special permit to harvest the deer, which was not able to eat or drink because of the position it was in. CRAIG MOORHEAD/NEWS-RECORD
A year ago, Black Hammer Township farmer Mervin Nelson saw something near his barnyard that he'd only heard tales about. Two buck deer with locked horns.

The larger, a 12-pointer, was dragging a dead eight-point buck through a barbed wire fence when Nelson spotted him.

"I was born here," Mervin said. "I've hunted here all my life... I've shot a few bucks over the years, but I never saw anything like that before."

The Nelson farm is located on the Houston/Fillmore County border between Spring Grove and Mabel. Mervin called his adult son, Kevin, and the pair telephoned Game Warden Scott Fritz to find out what should be done.

"He said there was no way to get them apart," Mervin said. "He gave us a special permit." This allowed the Nelsons to harvest the live animal with a shotgun.

The locked horns prevented the larger deer from drinking or eating. One of the tines from the smaller deer was embedded in its head as well. "He wouldn't have lasted much longer," Mervin said.

Neighbors soon gathered to see the bucks. Kevin dispatched the suffering animal, then field-dressed it. That's when a game warden with a wry sense of humor showed up.

"It was September 30, so shotgun season wasn't open," Mervin said. "He came across the fence, pulled out his handcuffs, and said 'All right, who did it?'"

"We all pointed at Kevin."

Fritz reportedly said the cuffs probably wouldn't fit Kevin anyway, and put them back in his pocket.

"Scott said that it was only the fourth time he's seen this in 28 years," Kevin said quietly.

Both men enjoy the outdoors, and are seasoned deer hunters. They have even established a Quail Forever project on one of their fields.

"I think it's just fun to get out in the woods," Mervin said.

Kevin agreed, adding that he enjoys hunting with friends.

The permit allowed Nelson to keep the meat from the big buck as well as the racks. Those are now preserved, providing a rare glimpse into a natural world that includes its share of struggles, some of which have tragic endings.