TOMS RIVER — Authorities have been trying to rescue a deer that appeared to be stranded for hours in the surf in Ortley Beach.

More than six hours after the six-point buck waded into the water, at times looking as if it would dart deeper into the ocean, the deer strolled onto dry land. But less than an hour later — after resting on the sand — the deer went back into the water as the high tide came in.

The deer's struggle was being captured on live TV by News 12 New Jersey, which showed a State Police boat arriving on scene before 3 p.m.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife said they are sending a team to help the animal.

The TV camera captured the buck being hit in the face by waves. At one point the deer briefly galloped through the water before once again freezing in place, turning its head between the shore and the ocean.

The deer walked back onto the beach about 3:15 p.m., where it warily looked at people gathered nearby.

At about 4 p.m., the camera captured the deer back in the water, it's head and antlers bobbing above the waves, before it walked back onto land.

John Bergmann, director of Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey, says it would be difficult to rescue the deer — and there are fears that the deer may bolt back into the water. Bergmann said officials are trying to clear the beach of people so they can tranquilize the deer and get him off the beach.

“The problem is that once they 30 or 40 feet from the deer, he goes back in the water," Bergmann said. "You might cause his demise by shifting him further in.”

"He probably got in the water somehow in the bay and came out in the inlet. I’ve had it happen before a little further up by the marine police station. It came out there and got into the ocean.”

On Wednesday evening Toms River Police Department Spokesman Ralph Stocco said helping the deer has been an issue as the animal runs back into the water when anyone approaches it, and "gets in more distress." He also said tranquilizing the deer is also not an effective approach.

"The medication used could have more harm than good done given the animal's distressed condition," he said. "Also, he could go back into the water, pass out, and drown."

In a Facebook post before 9 a.m., the Toms River PBA said the deer was spotted in the water early Wednesday morning. The PBA discouraged people from helping. In the post the PBA said the deer "will most likely get himself home at some point today."

"If you see it wandering around Ortley Beach, don't approach it," the post said. "Just let it be as it will get scared."

Stocco said even as the day got later that the wait and see approach was likely still the best for the animal.

Dan Alexander contributed to this report.

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