Fishing Ice Fishing

Watch: Ice Fishermen Snag an Entire Buck Skeleton in ‘Coolest Catch of My Life’

“One 5x5 hole and a couple lake trout rods later and we had a buck”
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Skeleton of a buck pulled through the ice.
Hauling the skeleton through the ice; two catches from the same spot. Photos via / Instagram

An angler in Alberta took to Instagram on Wednesday to share a video of one of the more bizarre catches we’ve seen in recent memory. A year ago on Wednesday, Noah Cohen-Andrew helped pull an intact buck skeleton through a hole in the ice. He was targeting pike and burbot with some buddies when they found and snagged the dead buck. Hauling it up, they saw that the carcass still had the entire vertebra, rib cage, and both hind legs attached.

“Probably the coolest catch of my life,” Cohen-Andrew wrote in the March 13 Instagram post.

The Alberta-based fisherman first posted about the deadhead catch on March 12, 2023. Although he didn’t respond to a request for comment on the backstory behind it, he tagged Lac La Nonne as the location in last year’s post. The roughly 3,000-acre lake is known for its healthy perch and northern pike populations, and it’s located only an hour outside of Edmonton, Alberta’s capital city.

It appears that Cohen-Andrew and his buddies snagged the buck intentionally and used more than one rod to lift it to the surface. He explained in a comment that they dropped a camera down their ice hole after cutting it and saw the deer skeleton lying on the bottom of the lake.

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“Not sure what the odds are but they’re small for sure!” he said. “One 5×5 hole and a couple lake trout rods later and we had a buck.”

An Instagram carousel post showing the skull, the underwater camera view of the buck, and a few other shots.

In the more recent video post, Cohen-Andrew explained that the water was only six feet deep in the location where they snagged the carcass. His best guess is that the buck must have been walking on thin ice when it broke through, drowned, and sank to the bottom.

It’s hard to guess how long the carcass would have been down there. A study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that a deer carcass can take between 18 and 101 days to decompose, but that study was conducted on dry land. Cold water can slow down this process significantly while warm water speeds it up, according to BBC Science, which means the carcass could have been underwater for some time before the anglers found it.

“It’s not every day you get to haul a deer out from under the ice,” Cohen-Andrew wrote in March 2023. “Only took about 3 hours. One hell of a story and a future wall mount.”