FAIR OAKS, Calif. (KOVR-TV) — Wildlife officers accomplished a miracle wildlife rescue months in the making. A deer with a massive hammock stuck in its antlers is finally taking a load off. He’s been roaming neighborhoods around Lake Natoma in California since the summer, but rescuers finally tracked him down a few days before Christmas.

The buck with the hammock on its head eluded rescuers for almost six months but survived against the odds. “I think it says a lot about the deer. He was a very healthy, strong deer,” said Monica Schluer, who lives in Fair Oaks.

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Schluer was there when officers made the miracle rescue not far from her home. The Department of Fish and Wildlife had already tried three times to tranquilize the deer.

“People tend to grossly oversimplify the animal-capture process,” Captain Patrick Foy told CBS Sacramento. He said the so-called “hammock buck” was closely tracked and one morning it all came together.

“We showed up in the dark and basically ambushed the deer. We were in full camouflage,” he added.

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Officers had been lying in wait for more than an hour. “This animal had no idea we were there. My partner got a good dart in the right spot which is generally the major muscle groups,” Foy said.

It was bullseye, and luckily the lethargic deer didn’t wander far. Officers used a specially mixed drug for the dart that requires them to put the deer on oxygen as they operate. The hammock was removed and the antlers were sawed off for protection.

“We want to make them so that they are not vulnerable to poaching,” Foy said.

Neighbors said they’ll never forget the moment the buck woke up again, ready to start life fresh. “He kind of looked at us, like ‘hey what’s going on here?’ Then he got up and ran through the hills. It was great!” Schluer said.

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In a neighborhood full of roaming furry friends, the hammock buck became family, Schuler said. Neighbors watched out for him, hoping and praying for this happy ending. “I really felt honored for just a moment of time I could see and experience part of his life. I really did,” she added.