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Injured deer likely kicked, killed hunter

A Fort Wayne man died Monday after struggling with a wounded deer during a deer reduction hunt at Chain O’Lakes State Park in Albion, state officials said.

Paul J. Smith, 62, died from a lacerated liver, according to an autopsy performed by the Noble County coroner, the Department of Natural Resources said.

Smith called his son shortly after 9 a.m. and left a voice message that he’d shot a buck, the DNR said.

About 10:30 a.m., Smith’s son called back and Smith said he noticed the deer was still alive after he got down from his tree stand to field dress and tag the deer.

Smith told his son he scuffled with the deer before killing it with a knife, the DNR said.

“It appears as if he was kicked,” DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said. “There were no puncture wounds of any kind. There was bruising.”

Two hours later, Smith called park officials by cell phone to request help in transporting a deer to the reduction hunt check in, the DNR said.

A park employee who went to retrieve the deer found Smith unconscious and seated against a tree.

Other park officials and a conservation officer responded immediately and attempted to revive Smith with a portable defibrillator, but got no response, the DNR said.

They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until emergency responders arrived and pronounced Smith dead at the scene.

Bloom said there are usually a handful of hunter fatalities each year, but those are almost always someone who falls from a tree stand or has a heart attack.

“This is rare,” Bloom said.

“When you stack up the number of hunters who are out there in the fall, this would certainly be unusual.”

Hunters should remember to check to make sure a wounded deer is dead before approaching to tag or field dress it, Bloom said.