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Farmer recounts ordeal with stag

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A brush with a death after being gored by a 200kg stag has Peter Foley armed with a lifetime of pub stories.Only problem is, the doctor says he can’t drink alcohol.

The Waimate District councillor yesterday spoke publicly for the first time about the attack on his Studholme farm nearly a month ago which nearly killed him.

From his Timaru Hospital bed, the straight-talking councillor recalled how he was weaning deer in the farm shed when suddenly one of the stags starting grinding his teeth and lunged forward.

Mr Foley was armed with a baffle board, but he slipped and the stag pierced deep into his thigh. The animal then continued to attack the unconscious farmer, piercing his chest several times.

The worst of the injuries pierced through the chest, missing the aorta and damaging the liver, kidney, and stomach.

“When I woke up I felt my gumboot was full of blood. It’s all quite hazy, I must have been unconscious for up to half an hour.

“I got into my truck and drove home. I said to my wife Anne, ‘I think I need a doctor’.

True to character, he stayed calm during the ordeal, and Mrs Foley said this helped her remain focused.

“Peter told me what to do. He said `take my gumboot off. Get me a duvet because I’m cold, and ring the doctor and ambulance.’

“The gumboot was full of blood and I didn’t know where it was coming from.”

Mr Foley lost consciousness when the ambulance to Timaru Hospital reached Makikihi.

His first few days in hospital were touch and go and he was in an induced coma. On day four Mr Foley thought he would die.

His two sons came home from Australia and America “to bury their father”.

But Mrs Foley never believed her husband would die.

Looking back, Mr Foley said he was a “bloody fool” to be in the shed alone. Usually a mate helps him with the two-man job of weaning.

“I’m an idiot. I should have known better.”

But it was late in the day, he had just returned from three weeks with his son in America, and the job needed doing.

Mr Foley said deer were volatile creatures. After 25 years working with the animals, he has had his fair share of scrapes and near misses.

The accident has convinced him to reduce the farm from 250 to 50 deer – much to the relief of Mrs Foley.

“Deer farming is a young person’s game,” she said.

The Foleys have full praise for the medical team who have looked after him. The couple are also thankful to the many people who have sent cards and letters of support.

Mr Foley is now up and about with the aid of a walking stick. He started on solid food three days ago which coincided with his first full night’s sleep.

He’s minus a kidney and has a railroad track of chest scars, but is expected to make a full recovery. He’s looking forward to getting back around the council table.

And as for the alcohol, Mr Foley’s getting another opinion.

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