The forestry department asked Ray O’Donnell if he was sure.
Was he sure, that is, that a deer had broken into his house through a window, knocked over all of his wife’s quilting supplies and was running around in the basement?
O’Donnell — keeping his distance from sharp hooves — was quite sure.
On Wednesday, he and his wife, Katie O’Donnell, had just minutes earlier returned to their home in Hampton, N.B., from a grocery shopping trip.
When they saw the broken window, they thought someone had broken in.
But when O’Donnell saw a deer in the basement, though, he quickly told Katie to cancel the call to the police.
They called the forestry department instead.
“This normally doesn’t happen,” O’Donnell said he was told over the phone.
O’Donnell’s son and friend came over to help contain the situation — and to record the mayhem on a a phone video.
When someone from the Department of Natural Resources arrived, O’Donnell said he had a big stick and seemed to know what to do with the deer, which O’Donnell described as a large doe.
Eventually, the deer ran up the stairs and out the door, running back to the woods.
“It took off — you wouldn’t think anything was wrong with it,” O’Donnell said.
The O’Donnells see deer all the time near their home, though he pointed out they don’t usually break into their house. Still, the deer are common enough that they’re careful while driving, and even sometimes see them come close to their windows.
“I don’t know what they’re looking for,” said O’Donnell, who’s lived in the area for more than 30 years.
He’ll be looking at deer a bit differently now, he said. Surveying the damage, O’Donnell was able to retrace the animal’s path of destruction.
It broke into Katie’s sewing room, knocking over fabric and quilting fabric — though, thankfully, leaving the sewing machine intact.
O’Donnell was surprised the animal didn’t break its neck coming through the double-paned, vinyl glass window.
‘Uncommon but not unheard of’
The deer did cut itself, though. A pool of blood sent a rug to the garbage can, and O’Donnell’s daughter-in-law arrived later to bleach the floor.
The deer ran out of the sewing room, somehow ripping up trimming on the door and leaving a dent in the wood.
In a statement, the Department of Natural Resources said Hampton has a fairly large suburban deer population, so deer are common around homes in the neighbourhood.
“These incidents are uncommon but not unheard of in New Brunswick,” it said.
The statement said there was minimal injury to the deer.
Despite the damage, O’Donnell is finding humour in the situation. Since the deer’s tracks came from across the road, he jokingly accused his neighbour of chasing the animal into his house.
Still, he’s not hoping for any more intense wildlife encounters.
“You have to be very careful around here,” he said.