By Scott Bestul
My friend Kent Halstead is a whitetail nut of the highest order. In addition to being a highly skilled hunter, he’s a student of deer who spends a lot of time observing and learning. As partial evidence, I offer the following series of trail-camera pics that Kent sent me this week. They offer a multi-year glimpse into the life of one special deer. I’ll let him tell the story of this whitetail, then ask for your comments: What’s going on with a deer that grows a freaky rack that never loses its velvet?
"For several years, I had been getting some strange pictures of a deer that looked like it had big balls of velvet on its head.
Then on September 16, 2005 I got a strange picture of a freaky velvet antlered deer. What I found really odd was that all the other bucks at this time of year had shed their velvet. The other thing I found strange was this deer was always with doe groups and not part of a bachelor group of bucks typical for this time of year."
"The following fall my trail cams produced this photo..."
"Each Winter while doing camera surveys the deer would show up with big balls of velvet still on its head after all the other bucks had shed. In some cases, I could see that the extreme cold was frost cracking the living tissue."
"In August of 2007 I found this picture on my camera and I really started getting interested in learning more about what was going on with this deer. I spent days researching all the information I could find about abnormal antler growth."
"I still have never laid eyes on this deer and I put my fair share of time in the bow stand each fall. Each year I would come up with a new series of pictures of this deer, which would send me back in time going through tens of thousands of pictures trying to piece the puzzle together.
The last picture was taken this summer on 6-24-2008. And so the story continues..." - Kent Halstead