The buck appears to have drowned while swimming.
It's not uncommon for various marine creatures to wash up on our beaches. Beachgoers find dead fish, turtles and birds almost every day.
But it's not every day a mammal washes ashore.
Tuesday morning, walkers found just that when they stumbled upon a deer on the beach behind Pompano Joe's in Walton County.
Brian Kellenberger, Director of Beach Operations for Walton County, said beach maintenance workers were called to the scene to do something with the animal, which appeared to be an eight-point buck. He said workers assessed the animal and did not find any obvious signs of trauma or foul play.
"Our first thought was that somebody had shot it or something and it ended up on the beach," Kellenberger said. "But (there were) no bullet holes, it wasn’t bleeding from the mouth or the ears or anything. (There were) no obvious trauma to any of its legs. It was almost completely mark free."
Kellenberger said he had a theory as to what happened to the buck.
"It looked to me like he did what deer do on occasion – he went for a swim, and then drowned," he said.
He said that though it's not common for deer to wash up on the beach, Tuesday morning wasn't the first time a deer had drowned in Walton County waters. Because of the abundance of deer in the nearby Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, he has occasionally found smaller deer drowned in the waters near the park.
"We found it in close proximity to Topsail State Park, so my guess is it probably was living on that land and for whatever reason got in the water," he said. "There's no telling how long he had been out in the water swimming or floating. It was stiff when we found it."
Hunter Meyer owns and runs a beach chair service in the area where the animal was found. He said the discovery was shocking.
"I have seen a lot of things wash up, but never a deer," he said in a Facebook message.
Kellenberger said he and maintenance workers removed the deer from the beach and buried it on a lot behind their facility.