The fake pumpkin is keeping the animal from eating and possibly from drinking. It appears to be snagged on the young buck's ears or horn buds.
Animal experts who went to the neighborhood Thursday to assess the situation got within 35 to 40 yards of the deer, said Bert Vescolani, director of the John Ball Zoo in nearby Grand Rapids.
Zoo personnel, as well as other animal experts, planned to return to the site Friday. If they see the deer, they hope to shoot a tranquilizer dart into him, remove the plastic jack-o'-lantern after the buck becomes unconscious and take the animal somewhere to recover until he can be released back into the wild.
"He seems to be doing pretty well," Vescolani said. "I'm always amazed at how wildlife makes it sometimes, even under the hardest conditions."
Anesthetizing the buck and taking him away carries some degree of risk, Vescolani said, but the creature will certainly die of starvation or dehydration unless the plastic pumpkin is removed from his head.
The bright orange bucket also would make it much easier for hunters to see the animal when the state's hunting season begins Wednesday.
Vescolani said he and the others will do their best to save the deer.
"There are a lot of folks trying to do the right thing, and hopefully we'll get the right results that'll be the best for the animal," he said.