‘I was just amazed and really mad’: Columbia Co. teen’s trophy buck stolen; viral Facebook posts helps get deer back

PORTAGE, Wis. — A 15-year-old’s successful hunting experience was literally taken away from him, but thanks to some online sleuthing, the story has a happier ending.

Garrett Diehm shot the buck in Columbia County on opening weekend for the nine-day gun-deer hunting season. Diehm’s mother Sarah said the buck was stolen off of their property in the time it took the boy and his family to run back to the house to let his grandparents know.

“We went up, took a bunch of pictures with it, went up to my grandparents’ house to get a wagon and supplies to field dress it, my mom used the bathroom, we came back and the buck was gone,” Diehm recalled.

“I was just amazed and really mad. I did not think that would happen to us back on our own property way back in the woods where there’s like nobody back there,” he added.

Sarah Diehm, who couldn’t believe what had happened at first, turned to Facebook, sharing photos of the buck in a post about what happened. That post got more than 5,000 shares on the social media site.

The deer’s skin and head were later returned to the boy, but the person who took it had already taken it to a meat processing plant. Diehm said while he is also expecting to get the meat from the animal, the theft robbed him of part of the hunting experience.

Paul Nadolski, the DNR warden behind the investigation, said the deer that was hunted was an incredible get for the teen.

“As far as I’m concerned, it would be considered the deer of a lifetime,” said Nadolski. “I’ve hunted a lot of years and I’ve never had an opportunity to see a deer that nice.”

Nadolski said a combination of social media tips and old-fashioned police work with the sheriff’s office resulted in good news for the young hunter.

“Quite honestly, that’s what moved us along so quickly,” said Nadolski.

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Though happy news at the end, the warden said the story is a reminder to keep an eye on your gear and your game, especially when it’s such a memorable one.

“Don’t leave anything of value out where people can see it,” said Nadolski. “There are people in this world that are just that way — they are going to come and try to take it.”

RELATED: Columbia County Sheriff’s Office makes arrest in deer theft

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the DNR are wrapping up their investigations. They’re going to send things off to the DA’s office, where charges will follow.