For several University of Wisconsin-Stout students, faculty and staff, it was five minutes of terror.
“It’s probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever been involved in,” said Mike Lawler, an instructor in the psychology department.
A deer that broke into the Vocational Rehabilitation Building on campus Wednesday left several shaken students and employees, along with a trail of blood and an estimated $3,400 in damage.
The window where the buck broke in on Third Street E. is covered in plywood and the blood has been cleaned up. But those who were in the animal’s path still are talking about it.
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“It’s something I won’t soon forget,” said Judy Bauer, a receptionist, who ducked into an office when the bleeding deer suddenly appeared in front of her.
The deer, chased by a dog, entered the building at about 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, crashing through a window next to a student who was studying. It then ran down a hallway, narrowly missing Paul Schwartz, assistive technology manager and engineer in the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute.
Schwartz had peeked out of his office to see what was happening. “The deer was about three feet from me and going full speed,” Schwartz said.
Lawler was meeting with a student in an office near Schwartz. They also came out to see what caused the breaking glass. “I’ve been in the building 29 years and never heard anything like that before,” Lawler said.
Lawler couldn’t believe what he saw. “This thing was going about 45 miles per hour. It was so fast,” he said.
Lawler used to hunt deer and estimated the buck at 180 pounds with an impressive rack of about eight points.
The deer rammed another plate glass window without breaking it. Then it saw Lawler and the student. Its tongue was hanging out and it was bleeding from its nose and elsewhere.
The deer lowered its head and began coming at Lawler and the student. “I bolted,” Lawler said.
Unfortunately, Lawler lost his balance. “I went down in a heap. I fully expected the deer to trample or gore me. A buck in rut is a different animal,” Lawler said, referring to the current deer mating season.
Lawler said he sprained his wrist and bruised his ribs from the fall. He also hit his head on the floor and skinned his knee.
The student made it to safety, jumping over Lawler but then returning to help him up.
Instead of attacking Lawler, the buck went down another hallway, where it encountered Bauer in the UW-Stout Online office area. As Bauer sidestepped it, the buck walked around briefly among the office cubicles, still dripping blood and rattling other workers before it went out the way it came in.
Back in the hallway, the deer bolted for the building’s10th Avenue front doors, which consist of two sets of motion-sensitive sliding doors. The buck hit the doors head-on, but they didn’t open. It returned seconds later. This time the doors opened and he was gone, Lawler said.
The fate of the animal isn’t known. “It was amazing how much blood there was,” Lawler said.
Throughout the ordeal a student was sitting against a wall in the middle of the action, apparently too scared to move. The buck never bothered her. “I asked her afterward if the was OK. She said she was, but she was shaking. So was I,” Lawler said.
Two other students studying at a nearby table had run for cover in a stairwell.
“It was close to quitting time, but needless to say nobody could do much work after that,” Bauer said.
When Bauer returned home, she told her ordeal to her son, who had been bowhunting but without any luck. “I had more action than you,” she told him.