Last summer, Brent Wiesenburger of Aberdeen, South Dakota started getting trail cam photos of a truly unusual deer—a buck with half of its antlers melded into a hardened paddle instead of the typical points of a whitetail buck. 

Wiesenburger manages the food plots and hunts on private property in north-central South Dakota, about 80 miles from home. He spent all of archery season pursuing the strange buck with nothing to show for it. 

Whitetail Hunting photo
The deer’s unusual antler growth is on full display in this photo from last September. Brent Wiesenburger.

“I had probably 8 close encounters with him but was never able to get a shot on him,” he tells Field & Stream. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain, and all the food plots are tall. He was within range, but I could never shoot because of the cover of the food plots.”

Meanwhile, Wiesenburger, who typically tells his buddies about the deer he’s chasing, was uncharacteristically tight-lipped, only letting slip that he’d found a “special deer” but that it wouldn’t “score well.”

Wiesenburger also tried to puzzle out why the deer’s antlers had formed in such a unique way. “There are some photos of his chest showing a big tumor he carried all summer long. Then it blew up, and you could see it draining,” he says. “I don’t know for sure if that contributed to the antler growth or not.”

On Saturday, November 18, rifle season opened in his region. “I went and sat in a ground dug-out blind at a pasture the buck had been using for water,” says Wiesenburger. “I got cold and moved over to one of my permanent structures, clicked the heater on, and a couple minutes later, he showed up. He came in to about 100 yards, then it was all over. I was shaking like a leaf.”

Whitetail Hunting photo
Wiesenburger took the buck with a 100-yard shot from a permanent ground blind.

Wiesenburger says the buck fell in such a way that it’s paddle-like antler was sticking up in the air; the other normally developed antler fell against the ground. Wiesenburger says it’s hands-down the most unique deer he’s ever hunted. 

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“It was surreal knowing the hunt was over,” he says. “I’m 52 years old and have a lot of trophy bucks for our area, but walking up to this thing, I realized it was my true trophy. I’ve never seen anything like it.”