An Arkansas hunter was killed Tuesday by a deer he assumed was shot dead, said Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Thomas Alexander, 66, was an experienced hunter who had lived in the Yellville, Arkansas, area for several years, Stephens said. He was hunting Tuesday in the nearby Ozark Mountains, using a primitive firearm known as a muzzleloader, according to Stephens, and called a family member at 6:30 p.m. to relay that he’d successfully shot a buck.

But the timeline of events becomes less clear after that.

Stephens isn’t sure whether Alexander, a licensed hunter, immediately left his deer stand or waited before approaching the buck. The commission recommends waiting at least 30 minutes to ensure that a shot deer is dead.

“He may have done that, but evidently the deer wasn’t dead,” Stephens said. “They found several puncture wounds on him at the hospital – the assumption is the deer gored him with his antlers.”

Alexander called another family member about 8 p.m. to report that he was injured, Stephens said. That family member alerted 911, but Alexander died from his injuries en route to a hospital. Stephens said no autopsy is planned.

The Game and Fish Commission sent at least two dogs Wednesday to track down the buck, which is believed to be alive, Stephens said. The search was set to continue Thursday, but heavy rainfall in the area has hampered the effort.

Stephens said hunters are advised to wait at least 30 minutes because even if a deer appears slain, it may be dazed. He cited a 2016 incident in which a hunter in Ashley County, located in southern Arkansas, was gored on the inside of his leg after approaching a deer he thought was dead.

That man survived the attack, Stephens said – but both incidents serve as a reminder for hunters to be as cautious as possible when handling a potential kill.

“During our hunter education classes we explain the best thing to do is approach it from behind,” he said. “If you go behind them it can buy you a few seconds because they have to roll over to kick you.”

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