An 8-point buck bolted to freedom Tuesday night after being trapped on a tiny strip of land along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis since last week.

The deer had grazed contentedly on brush while eyeing hundreds of pedestrians and bicyclists who stopped to admire him during his time in the big city. He was confined between the water and a tall chain-link fence, near the St. Anthony Falls lock and dam.

The mission to free the deer began after dark Tuesday, when throngs of people out enjoying a warm autumn day thinned to an occasional bicyclist, runner or walker.

An animal control officer and Minneapolis park police walked the shoreline, panning flashlights, trying to locate the elusive deer.

Then, a Brooklyn Center couple, Ezequiel and Janna Cuevas, saw something rise up. Then it sat peacefully. “It scared me at first, but then I saw it was a buck,” Ezequiel said. “It was weird it was sitting in such a small grassy area.”

He alerted the officers, who ran east, yipping as they chased the deer. It swam across a small channel, onto the patch of land where it had been before, and finally scrambled out a gate they had opened.

The buck was last seen heading east into brush, toward the Fort Snelling woods.

Joy Powell