Someone Tossed a Bottle in the Woods and Killed a Nice Buck

buck bottle qdma lead

I despise a litterbug.

As a hunter and fisherman who enjoys clean water and clean forests, few things aggravate me more than physical evidence that someone was here before me and treated the land with disrespect. Litter also has a real impact on people and wildlife. When my children and I swim in rivers, I worry about broken glass. During a drought, a cigarette butt flicked from a car window can start a wildfire that damages habitat and timber or threatens towns and homes. This is to say nothing of the illegal dumper who arrives in the night and leaves entire truckloads of garbage on the lands of others.

But even small acts of littering can have surprising consequences. At some point in the past, someone in York County, South Carolina, tossed a bottle in the woods. They don’t know it, but they killed a deer with that bottle.

On January 6, friends of Bob McCutcheon found a large buck dead beside a pond on Bob’s 350-acre hunting property.

“It hadn’t been dead very long, maybe a day,” said Bob. “We checked for bullet holes. None. It didn’t look like it had starved. We thought maybe it had been hit by a car.”

Then, someone looked in the buck’s mouth. Somehow, the buck had stuck its tongue into the mouth of a glass bottle and couldn’t get it back out. The bottle had broken off, but the ring of the bottle’s mouth remained. It had apparently cut off blood flow to the tongue, because the end of the tongue appeared to be dead and already rotting (see the photo below).

tongue detail qdma

Though the exact cause of death is unknown, it is likely the deer died of thirst, which would have killed it faster than starvation. Thirst may also explain why it was found beside a pond.

“I had a picture of that buck on camera but had never lain eyes on it before,” said Bob. “He was the biggest buck I’ve ever seen on this property. He was a big deer for this area. I don’t know where it got that bottle. We keep a tidy place here. There’s no beer bottles lying around.”

“I’ve been hunting whitetails for 40 years, and I’ve never come across a whitetail that died in such a weird manner,” said Calvin Cox, a QDMA member who hunts across the road from Bob.

At QDMA, we’ve seen and heard about our share of weird deer stories, but death by bottle is a new one. It’s a freak occurrence, and that bottle you just emptied isn’t likely to get stuck on a deer’s tongue, but there are plenty of other reasons why we should all put litter in it’s place.

  • Mitch

    I pick up a garbage bag full of trash along our county road every month. I don’t have to, but if I don’t, who will? My question is why do we have such pigs that need to throw garbage everywhere? There are many alcoholics that can’t wait to get home to pour beer down their throat and endanger other drivers.

    Man continues his descent into hell.

  • Becky Lou Lacock

    So very sad! Hopefully this can be circulated and bring awareness to littering ANYWHERE! 🙁

  • CaptainCanada

    I find this article very condescending, aren’t you a hunter who kills deers? Are you just upset that you didn’t get to shoot it?

    • Lindsay Thomas Jr.

      Condescending toward whom? Litterbugs? Then yes, you are correct, I look down on people who thoughtlessly leave garbage on the landscape. And my being a hunter is not a contradiction to my being concerned about litter and wildlife. In fact, being a hunter makes me more in tune with nature, and more concerned about protecting it, than many people who do not hunt.

      • CaptainCanada

        You obviously misunderstood my point. What’s the difference between the deer dieing from someone littering or getting shot by a hunter, the animal would still be dead.

        • ronnyc

          The hunter usually eats it Einstein. No different than a cougar, bear, coyote, or wolf.

          • CaptainCanada

            lol….ok pal, typical and expected response from a highly educated individual I’m assuming.

        • Lindsay Thomas Jr.

          One difference is, if I shoot it, I’m going to eat it. It is not a wasted death but is part of the natural cycle of predator and prey. Also, I’m a licensed hunter who is part of regulated hunting that is used to manage deer populations for sustainability (not too many or too few deer). When activities such as littering or pollution or habitat destruction impact wildlife numbers, it is not managed or regulated and has the potential to cause long-term harm.

  • Joe

    that makes my blood boil….

  • Nick Rabalais

    another Dump voter contributing to society and nature

    • Don Hicks

      And you’re a fucking idiot. You have ZERO proof of where that broken bottle neck came from. What a completely asinine thing to say.

    • Alex Moon

      This was not in the least bit political, anyone piece of shit could have thrown that.
      I don’t like Trump by the way, but I’m not going to assume every bad act was perpetuated by his followers.
      That’s just the height of ignorance.

  • Eric Ruszkowski

    smokers here in the NorthEast just don’t care. They just want THEIR car all nice and clean, No ashes or butts in the car. So out the window it goes. One smoker after another. If you were a cop and saw someone smoking here, you could so easily follow them and watch them toss it! sick!

    • John Hammons

      Same here in california

    • Brian Dickinson

      i live in upstate NY and I’m a smoker. When I’m driving I use my ashtray. When i’m walking i use a pocket ashtray. absolutely NONE of my cigarette butts ever land on the ground. So some of us northeasterners do indeed care.

    • Mike Stoke

      WTF does a cigarette butt have to with this artical of a deer dying from sticking his tough in a bottle?

      • Eric Ruszkowski

        Jim Smith mentioned the $1,000 fine for flicking cigarettes out the window. The bottle was just another form of litter. Just amazed how careless people are with our wildlife. So many brush/forrest fires are caused by this behavior. Glad Brian is not one of them.

  • jim smith

    poor buck, it must have suffered before finally dying. here in washington state, its a $1,000.00 dollar fine for flicking a butt out the window

    • Daddyd2x

      Is it enforced though?
      I have never heard of anyone getting a fine for littering unfortunately


About Lindsay Thomas Jr.

Lindsay Thomas Jr. is the editor of Quality Whitetails magazine, the journal of QDMA, and he is QDMA's Director of Communications. He has been a member of the QDMA staff since 2003. Prior to joining the staff of QDMA, Lindsay was an editor at a Georgia hunting and fishing news magazine for nine years. Throughout his career as an editor, he has written and published numerous articles on deer management and hunting. He earned his journalism degree at the University of Georgia.