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Rescue personnel and park officials spent several hours Saturday attempting to assist four deer that fell through the ice at Gifford Pinchot State Park. 

Onlookers lined the bridge at Boat Mooring Lot 1 along Rossville Road as park manager Devin Buzard and state Department of Community and Natural Resources Ranger Wanda Pritulsky made their way from shore through ice as thick as three-quarters of an inch to three of the whitetail bucks that were struggling about 25 yards from shore.

The incident started when Paul Hedin, of Lewisberry, heard the deer struggling while he was hiking the lakeside trail.

"You could hear their racks clicking together; they were panicking," he said.

More: 'Sad news': Despite rescuers' efforts, buck pulled from Gifford Pinchot lake dies

One buck had already perished before the rescuers created a channel through the ice and then went back in from another direction, pushing the two remaining bucks into the open water where they could swim to shore.

Several hundred yards away, another buck struggled alone in the icy water as rescuers tried to find a way to get to it.

A launched boat was unable to break through the ice. About 3½ hours after the buck fell through the ice, a rescuer using an ice rescue sled was able to grab the remaining buck and hold its head out of the water as other personnel pulled them to shore with a rope. 

According to Game Commission Officer Timothy Wenrich, Saturday was the last day of flintlock muzzleloader and archery deer season, but it's unknown what caused the deer to try to cross the ice. 

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