Hamptons Police Department personnel deployed to North Haven this week in order to disperse crowds that gathered to watch crews filming a new documentary. The movie, Deer King, focuses on eccentric naturalist and Sag Harbor native, Billy Bob Bourgeois, who has lived for years among the Village’s tremendous deer population.
According to Mick Severin, the film’s producer, Bourgeois had managed to lead a quiet life in the forest with his hoofed brethren until a popular local teen YouTube star, Denkie Bro, caught him on camera during a “Spooky Night in the Woods” episode of his popular, eponymous web series, Denkie Bro’s Mad World.
“The kid was out there hamming it up for the camera one night in March, when a bearded figure suddenly appeared onscreen, running on all fours behind a group of deer that came smashing across the trail,” Severin said on Tuesday. “Well, you can imagine the sensation it caused among Denkie’s 35 million weekly viewers,” the producer continued. “This man captured everyone’s imagination, and I immediately knew I had to track him down and make a movie. Unfortunately, word got out and it’s becoming very difficult to film an honest doc with all these observers.”
Police have cordoned off the stretch of woods where Bourgeois, aka Deer King, spends most of his time, but curious fans and onlookers are still managing to break through the perimeter, often asking Deer King for autographs or trying to get on camera in order to achieve their own brush with fame.
“I have Billy Bob’s permission to film, so that helps, but I’m basically just letting him do his thing most of the time,” Severin added. “That proves extra challenging when he jumps fences and enters area properties to eat flowers and goodies from their vegetable gardens,” he said. “Moments like that pretty much incite total chaos.”
Severin explained that HPD officers have done an excellent job holding back the fray, but he acknowledged the difficulty of managing such a unique situation. “All this craziness has just caused me to rethink the film and respond with truth and flexibility,” he pointed out. “I’m currently reworking the documentary to include all this madness that arose upon our arrival. It’s a bit more meta, but that’s the way it goes in our pursuit of depicting reality honestly.”
Bourgeois’ friends and family, who were interviewed for the film, say he fell off the grid in 2011 and has had little contact with the area’s human population, aside from accepting gifts left for him on the edge of his woodsy domain. “If you leave anything—be it an iPod, a scarf or a box of Fruit Loops—it will be gone by the next morning,” Deer King’s long-suffering wife, Betty Bourgeois, said, complaining that she’s had little direct contact with her husband over the last nine years. “Once in a great while, I’ve coaxed him into eating cornmeal from my hand, but usually he just stands very still and hopes I can’t see him.”
If all goes according to plan, Deer King will debut on streaming television this August.