By Paul Grondahl
GREENPORT, N.Y. — Hudson police officer Kevin Sweet has thwarted assailants, busted drug dealers and saved a man's life with CPR, but nothing got as much attention as an iPhone video he shot of himself rescuing a frightened fawn tangled in a mesh of Christmas lights.
The video, which has gotten thousands of clicks on YouTube and "likes" on Facebook, shows the off-duty officer sweet-talking a doe-eyed Bambi in soothing tones. "Easy, buddy, easy," he said as the skittish young deer flinched and cowered at his approach.
"Stay there. It's OK. It's OK, buddy," he said.
Now, he's taking a ribbing from fellow cops in Hudson where Sweet, 30, has been a patrolman for five years. They've dubbed him the "deer hero" and taped a picture of a deer on his mailbox.
"I'm catching a lot of flak for it," he said Thursday. "It's pretty funny."
Sweet's brush with fame began when he stopped by his mother's rural home in Greenport, Columbia County, before the start of his 3 p.m. patrol shift. In the driveway, he spotted a young deer of about 60 pounds bound up in a net of connected Christmas lights that his mother used to decorate shrubs around her house. He figured the deer snagged the lights accidentally while browsing on foliage.
"It couldn't move well and it was real tired after trying to get free of the lights," Sweet said.
The fawn scrambled to the backyard and stopped, exhausted, with a dazed, deer-in-the-headlights look. Sweet crunched over icy snow to the deer and his iPhone recorded the sights and sounds of a tender encounter of man and animal. The raw footage was later edited and enhanced by videographer Lance Wheeler.
The video lasts about three minutes. That's how long it took Sweet to cut away the tangled wires with a knife and to pull the light netting free of the deer's legs. He could not tell if the deer was a doe or immature male, known as a button buck because it has small nubs where antlers will grow.
He knows the difference. Sweet is an enthusiastic hunter, mostly of ducks, although he also takes vacation time during deer hunting season and regularly eats venison from the deer he kills.
But this deer was not quarry. He felt sorry for the disabled creature. "It was going to die if I didn't get those lights off. It couldn't move and would probably freeze to death," said Sweet, who previously worked as a cop in Catskill and as a Columbia County sheriff's deputy.
Sweet said he felt a connection to the animal he saved. "It looked at me as I walked away and it seemed to be thinking, 'What the hell just happened?' "
Sweet's heroics had a more mundane upshot. "After I showed my mom the video, she went right out and started taking down the rest of the Christmas lights," he said.
Copyright 2014 the Times Union
McClatchy-Tribune News Service