by Trinity Gruenberg
trinity@inhnews.com


    A photo of a man grappling a deer in Walmart has gone viral with nearly 2000 Facebook shares as of Thursday, May 18. 
    The yearling buck wandered into the Wadena Walmart garden center on Tuesday, May 16,  around 7:30 p.m.
    Perhaps the deer was simply looking to save a buck when he entered the store?
    “We were in the pet food aisle and heard what sounded like an aisle shelf falling onto a woman because a woman screamed,” said Stephanie Koljonen who captured a photo of the incident.
    She and her boyfriend Kevin proceeded to see a deer sliding around on the floor as customer Tom Grasswick of Deer Creek tackled the deer.
    “Once the deer was down, he just held it softly and asked for a shirt to cover its eyes to keep it calm. I snapped the photo and we were advised “no photography” and to clear away. Tom was just holding the deer gently, but securely, so no one including the deer would get injured,” said Koljonen.
    “He’ll never go to Walmart with me again,” chuckled Grasswick’s wife, Jeannie.
    She had asked her husband to accompany her to Walmart to pick up garden supplies.
    “He never says ‘yes’,” she said.
    They were by the garden center getting ready to check out when the garden doors opened and the young buck walked in. The deer jumped and hit Tom on the left side of his head.
    “His instinct was to grab it and he did, within five feet of it hitting him,” she said.
    Tom tackled the animal and carefully wrapped himself around the deer on the floor, while asking for something to cover its eyes to calm it down.
    A woman handed him her over shirt and he wrapped it around the deer’s eyes. It calmed down, but Tom said it was still hard to hang onto.
    While he had the deer subdued, Walmart employees gathered to assist in the situation and grabbed some dog leashes from the pet section. Jeannie and an assistant manager quickly tied the front legs and back legs of the deer together to keep it from thrashing around. 
    Once the deer had fully calmed down, they carefully dragged it with the leashes back to the garden center with Tom crawling on his hands and knees to keep its head covered with the shirt to prevent it from getting spooked.
    They got the deer back into the garden center and back on its feet where it took off through the garden center door and back into the wild.
    Charles Crowsen, a Walmart spokesman, shared that in the 10 years the store has been open, this was the first deer to infiltrate the store. The following day, a raccoon was reported in the garden center, but it never entered the store. Crowsen said they’ve had reports of deer entering other stores, as well as turkeys.
    No injuries were reported, including to the deer, and no damage done to the store.  
    “He would have ran around and hurt somebody in the store or killed itself. He hit me and I figured somebody had to catch it, so I thought I would do it,” said Tom of the incident.
    “The whole ordeal lasted about 20 minutes and was handled very smoothly by staff, customers and law enforcement. We are grateful to the customers for their patience and to the customers and local law enforcement that helped us get the situation under control very quickly,” said Crowsen.

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