August 09, 2011
A Cluster of Bucks With Mismatched Racks
By Scott Bestul
One of my trail cams captured a cool-looking buck last week. I’ve nicknamed him The 64 Buck because it looks like he might have 6 points on his left side. The other side, however, is severely mismatched and looks like a four-point side that should be growing on the head of a two-year old deer. But the slab-sided body and impressive left antler indicates a much older animal.
Like many of you, I’ve read for years that a buck with a funky or deformed antler on one side probably had an injury; either to the antler itself, or even to the opposing rear hip. But here’s the thing: This is the third buck we’ve encountered with a significantly mismatched rack on this same, relatively-small (300-plus acres) farm in the last three years.
Earlier this summer, a hunting buddy got a photo of a younger buck with a goofy rack. When we discussed this deer, we were both thinking the buck might be related to Tilter. Tilter was a buck that lived on this farm in 2009 (that’s him in the daylight pic above). I had multiple photos of Tilter that summer and a good friend shot him during the late muzzleloader season that year. I helped drag Tilter out of the woods and had ample opportunity to look him over. He seemed to be in perfect health (besides being dead of course) and I wondered if his unbalanced rack might be a genetic thing.
So I’m anxious to get some opinions on this matter. Does the presence of three mismatched bucks on one farm mean there’s a goofy gene being passed around? Or is the farm populated by accident-prone whitetails that are good at damaging their racks in velvet? Or is something else at play? Your thoughts?