Dead Bald Eagle With Deer Head Gripped In Its Talons Found By Hunter

Neal Herrman / Facebook

45-year-old Neal Herrman from Barron, Wisconsin was out turkey hunting when something caught his eye laying out in the middle of a cornfield.

“I was easing along, looking for turkeys, and happened to glance out into a cut cornfield and spotted something white,” Neal told Outdoor Life. “I couldn’t figure what it was, so put my binoculars on it, and it looked like a bird of some type. So I walked over to take a better look.”

As Neal approached the bird, he realized it was a dead bald eagle still holding onto the head of a deer. He scratched his head as he looked down trying to figure out what could have killed the eagle.

He speculates that maybe the bird was eating roadkill and was hit by a car and died from its injuries trying to get out of the way of the vehicle. However, Neal didn’t find any signs of the bird being hit.

“A DNR officer thought that because the deer was so deteriorated it was likely a 2- or 3-day old road kill, and the eagle had picked it up at a nearby well-traveled road,” Neal said. “A vehicle strike may have injured the eagle as it flew off with the decomposed small deer, but I didn’t see any damage to its wings, legs or anywhere else. And I don’t think it was dead for more than a day.”

Another theory is the eagle saw the deer from the sky and landed on it so hard that its talons got stuck in the fawn’s decomposing skull and couldn’t get them out.

“When I got close I saw it was a mature, dead bald eagle,” says Neal. “And its talons—both feet—were locked solidly into the skull of a mostly decomposed fawn-size deer.” 

Neal called his brother-in-law Greg Moen, who works in law enforcement for Dunn County, and took a few photos to show him.

Greg then drove out to the scene and, with the approval of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, transported the eagle to a local DNR office for further inspection.

It was a full-grown adult male eagle with a six-foot wingspan. Authorities are hoping DNR biologists will be able to figure out what happened to it. Until then, it will remain a mystery.

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