Image of slain deer with Christmas lights in antlers sparks state investigation

A deer gets entangled in a strand of Christmas lights in the Summerbrooke neighborhood.
A deer gets entangled in a strand of Christmas lights in the Summerbrooke neighborhood.

A deer with Christmas lights caught up in its antlers was killed shortly after a resident posted a picture of the animal prancing around a northern Leon County neighborhood — and now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is stepping in.

A string of social media posts chronicled the deer's final moments and brought the situation to the FWC's attention. The agency confirmed it is looking into the incident, which could count as an illegal killing.

The deer first rose to viral fame after a Summerbrooke resident, who requested anonymity, spotted it on a walk with her husband. She said they were stunned when they saw the huge deer with a strand of someone's lights entangled around its antlers.

The photo generated a lot of buzz in a neighborhood Facebook group, and others also said they saw the animal. But she eventually took the photo down because many commenters were concerned that the picture would encourage hunters to find and kill the deer.

Before long, those fears became a reality. An anonymous user posted a picture in the same Facebook group of a man with his face blotted out, sitting on a truck's tailgate proudly holding up the head of the slain deer as its carcass lay in the truck bed.

"This needs to be brought to attention," the user wrote. "This deer's life was taken today in the neighborhood."

While it's unclear where precisely the deer was killed, anyone who recreationally uses a firearm outdoors in a residential area commits a first-degree misdemeanor, which could result in fines as much as $1,000 and up to a year in jail, according to state law.

Florida also has set hunting seasons that are determined by the zone in which a city and county resides, according to the FWC website. Florida is split into four different zones — Leon County is encompassed under both Zones C and D with Tallahassee falling right on the dividing line.

General gun season for hunting deer in Zone C begins Nov. 4 and ends Jan. 21, while the season in Zone D runs from Nov. 23 to Nov. 26 and again from Dec. 9 to Feb. 18. Other hunting methods — archery, crossbows, muzzleloading guns and trapping ― have their own specified dates.

The Summerbrooke resident hates that she might have played a part in the creature's death. "It was super cool to see, but now I'm regretting that I shared it because maybe he wouldn't have been killed," she said.

State wildlife agency seeks more information

  • If anyone has additional details regarding the incident, the FWC encourages them to contact the agency.

  • The FWC encourages the public to report fish, wildlife, or boating violations to FWC's Wildlife Alert Reward Program.

  • If information results in an arrest or citation, tipsters may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. The Wildlife Alert Hotline is 888-404-3922 or text Tip411.

Elena Barrera can be reached at Follow her on X @elenabarreraaa.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FWC investigating killing of deer with Christmas lights in antlers