A young, white-tailed deer wandered Montclair backyards with a pumpkin head for a day until  Montclair animal control officers came to the rescue. 

Officers got a late-night phone call on Monday, Oct. 26 from a resident in the area of Locust Drive reporting a deer wandering around with a plastic pumpkin bucket stuck on its head, said Animal Control Officer Michele Shiber.

Officers responded to the area, but lost track of the deer during the night and decided to track it again in the morning.

The next day, the deer, still with a pumpkin head, was sighted again in the area of Wayside Drive and Eagle Rock Way. The deer was tracked into a fenced yard on a cul-de-sac, while Shiber and her team tried to sneak up on it with a net and poles. The deer tried to jump over a fence, but couldn’t. 

After a few tries, Shiber’s team was able to get a net over the deer and subdue it. But the deer started flailing again as the team tried to remove the pumpkin, and tore the net with its hooves. 

But the rescue was a success as the pumpkin was pulled off of the deer’s head, and the deer wriggled loose from the net and bounded away. Neither the officers nor the deer were injured in the rescue. 

As the deer couldn’t see, it was fortunate that the deer did not venture onto Upper Mountain Avenue or another main street, Shiber said, due to the risk of getting hit by a car and causing an accident.

The deer was most likely an adolescent female, due to its size and lack of antlers. 

Pumpkins and other squash often attract deer and other large hooved mammals, especially if rainfall has been scarce. 

“They want to eat the pumpkin because of its high moisture content,” Shiber said. 

A deer may stop by one house, see a real pumpkin and stick its head into it, but the next house may have a fake pumpkin. 

“They don’t know the difference between a real pumpkin and a fake pumpkin,” she said.

One suggestion is that homeowners could hang plastic pumpkins up in trees, away from where deer can get at them, or if the pumpkins have lids on them, tape them shut. 

October is also rutting season for deer, and Shiber said it is not unusual for deer to rub their heads against things and get caught as a result. Last year, she said, animal control had to rescue a total of three bucks that had gotten tangled in deer-proof netting around fences. 

Shiber said that residents should leave the rescuing of deer to the professionals. Deer hooves are very sharp, even more so from deer walking on streets, Shiber noted. One kick from a deer hoof can actually cut someone badly enough to make them bleed to death, Shiber said.