The afternoon of May 22 was an eventful one for Arizona Game and Fish Department officer Brian Dietz and wildlife manager Seth Sheer. The duo was dispatched to a canal near the southern Arizona town of Casa Grande, where two mule deer does stood half-submerged in the water. They were trapped below the canal’s steep cement walls and couldn’t climb out. With help from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the officers corralled the mule deer to a part of the canal where they could climb out. But by that point, the deer were too exhausted to do so on their own.
So the officers “called in some reinforcements in the form of two young cowboys: Blake and Kyle.” It’s unclear how the officers tracked down the two young men, and their last names were not mentioned in the AZGFD Facebook post, but they brought their lariats with them to the scene. Blake expertly roped the two mule deer for the officers, who then pulled them out of the canal.
Once the deer were safely on dry ground, the AZGFD officers removed the rope and stood back.
“The cowboys, game wardens, and nature itself seemed to hold their collective breath as the deer regained their senses,” Sheer writes in the Facebook post. “Then, with renewed strength, the deer sprang forward, bounding away into the desert, their freedom restored.”
The Arizona mule deer population is estimated to be between 85,000 and 100,000 individuals, according to data from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Statewide harvest dropped off in the early 2000s, but has made a steady incline since then. In 2020, 10,356 mule deer were harvested.
Casa Grande sits halfway between Phoenix and Tuscon, near the Sonoran Desert. The canals and washes that criss-cross the area carry crucial water across the landscape. Much of the land surrounding Casa Grande is used for irrigated agriculture.
One commenter on the Facebook post called for the canals to be fenced or covered to protect wildlife from getting trapped. Other commenters either poured out support and affection for the team effort or quoted various songs about cowboys—namely how the world needs more of them and wondering where they’ve all gone.