WEYMOUTH — For almost 14 years, Anne Shore has been standing behind the counter of Quick 6 Liquors, ringing up customers and handing them what they came for: cigarettes, six-packs, and bottles of liquor. There is usually not much excitement. But on Tuesday it got weird.
In a shower of glass, cigarette packs, and the remains of a $205 limited-release bottle of Sam Adams Utopia, a deer landed in the store and began racing the aisles. A man in line dropped his beer and bolted for the door.
“It was running at full speed,” Shore said.
“It looked like Bambi,” said John O’Leary, a mail carrier who was returning from a delivery next door when he noticed the commotion and dashed inside.
In just a few minutes, the deer, which appeared to suffer cuts on its neck and side, managed to knock out a bevy of cocktail glasses and high-end liquors arranged behind the counter. But the damage could have been much worse, the store’s owner, Tarlochan Gidda, said Wednesday, as flecks of glass continued to turn up around his shop.
The deer had apparently raced down an aisle of expensive wines with minimal damage as the helpless owner watched. The deer left streaks of blood and an estimated $3,000 in damages behind before sprinting out the front door, Gidda said.
Shocking as it was to the people inside, the encounter is of a kind that is increasingly common in a state where wildlife populations have made astonishing rebounds, experts said. Once decimated, moose, beavers, black bears, and any number of birds of prey are thriving — and having more frequent clashes with suburban life.
David Stainbrook, the deer and moose project leader at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said Wednesday that deer are abundant in parts of Eastern Massachusetts because of laws restricting hunting within 150 feet of paved roads and 500 feet of occupied buildings without owner permission.
The deer’s leap into the liquor store Tuesday appeared to be a “freak accident,” he said. But the growing deer population and presence of forests in parts of Weymouth make such accidents more likely.
Whereas ideally there would be eight deer per square mile of forest, Stainbrook said, in places like Weymouth — where deer are killed only by cars — there are more than 30 per square mile.
Smashing through the window was merely a response to the stress of speeding cars and human activity, he said.
“It might have seen a reflection of trees in the window,” Stainbrook said. “I think that deer was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Still, Weymouth Deputy Fire Chief John Haslam said he could not remember ever seeing a deer in Weymouth or responding to an accident call involving one.
Gidda said he was doing paperwork in the store’s basement when he heard a loud crash. He ran upstairs and saw the deer running amok in the aisles.
A cashier and two customers inside froze, before one grabbed a chair from outside and tried to scare the deer away. The deer ran to the back of the store and began to ram its head into a freezer door, Gidda said.
O’Leary, the mail carrier, grabbed a piece of cardboard and began waving it at the deer, directing it calmly away from the freezer. Gidda began yelling, O’Leary said, causing it to move. Finally, the deer began to make its way to the front door. Surveillance video shows it inside the store for about two minutes.
Jenn Najera, a cook at G&G Deli across the street, said she heard the crash and then saw the deer barrel through traffic.
“I’ve never seen a deer on 3A,” she said. “We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes out.”
Luckily, Gidda said, no one was injured. But the bleeding deer appeared to be limping. “We still have blood on the door,” Gidda said. “Blood was dripping on the floor.”
O’Leary said he believed the deer was roaming freely. He said it was small, appearing to weigh around 150 pounds, but had the guts of an animal much bigger.
“It ran up Moulton Ave. faster than anything I’ve ever seen,” he said. “[It’s] young and strong, and, with the speed that it ran up that street, I believe it’s OK.”