DEERWOOD -- It's been a long, tortured road to fame for the large plaster deer statue that's become a well-loved mascot for Deerwood residents.
He's been shot at a few times, either by troublemakers or deer hunters in bad need of eyeglasses. The buck still sports a few bullet holes. His leg was once stolen by a carload of out-of-state teen vandals, who were later caught. The leg was later found in a field and reattached.
Sadly, with the Minnesota firearms deer opener only hours away, it appears that vandals have once again targeted the large buck.
The large blaze orange hunting cap with ear flaps that the buck has worn for the past four hunting seasons was stolen Halloween night. All that remained Thursday was the hunting jacket that city maintenance workers dress him in each hunting season.
Deerwood police officer Steve Ringhand suspects that teen vandals that took the deer's hunting cap and the rivalry between Aitkin High School and Crosby-Ironton High School may be to blame. He said a car of Aitkin teens was stopped Halloween night passing through Deerwood. The teens had 109 eggs with them in the car and they admitted they were planning to egg Crosby-Ironton High School.
Ringhand said he's unsure whether the two situations are related, but he's checking into it. The case remains under investigation.
"It's never been stolen before," said Ringhand. "It's just too bad. But kids talk. They tell their buddies and pretty soon we'll catch wind of it. Eventually they'll have to brag to their buddies."
But no one is more upset about the loss of the deer's hunting cap than seamstress Shirley Lundstrom. She created the hunting outfit four years ago. Lundstrom owns Shirls' Sewing and Alterations in Crosby. She was approached by the city to dress up the deer for the hunting season and thought she was up for the challenge. She sat for hours in the parking lot next to the deer, dreaming up a costume that would make the deer a hit with Deerwood residents and motorists passing through during deer hunting season. It was her idea to make the large hunting cap.
"I just couldn't resist an Elmer Fudd-type hat," she said.
Using two king-sized bed sheets sewn together, Lundstrom and her rather embarrassed husband, electrical engineer Gary Halvorson, draped the sheets over the deer, located on Highway 6 in the middle of Deerwood, one afternoon and mapped out a pattern on the fabric with a black marker. She cut out the pattern, then returned to the deer with a lot of pins to create tucks and darts to fit the pattern to the deer.
The city maintenance crew used a front end loader to help Lundstrom dress the deer.
It took 6 yards of 60-inch wide blaze orange nylon fabric, 12 yards of nylon webbing and five buckle sets to create the deer's hunting jacket. She even added an ammo clip, a patch and a zippered pocket to complete the look.
Friends teased her that the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce were planning to ask her to make a blaze-orange hunting outfit for Babe the Blue Ox.
The deer's hunting outfit has became a traditional stop for hunters passing through Deerwood. Hunters in their blaze orange attire have been spotted posing next to the large buck during the hunting season.
Perhaps it was the only deer they spotted all weekend.
"It's gotten to be pretty well known," said Deerwood City Clerk Mary Carson. "They know it. People travel through here all the time and expect to see it during the deer hunting opener."
A photo of Lundstrom, her daughter Jessica, and the deer in its hunting costume taken by friend Helen Lord of Brainerd was included in "America at the Millennium," a book that compiled the best photos of the 20th Century published by the International Library of Congress.
If you have any information to the whereabouts of the deer's hunting cap, contact the Deerwood Police Department at 534-3399.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.