No, these aren’t ugly deer. These are diamonds of the whitetail world.
Ever had that weird-looking buck on camera? Sure you have. It’s an oddball buck that doesn’t fit the typical mold. But don’t look at those bucks as inferior. Rather, look at them as rare trophies you might not see again. Here are 15 that I’ve encountered.
This Kentucky buck is one that has a great left side, and then a lot of craziness on the right. While you can’t see it in this photo, it even has a bunch of points around the bases. Incredibly, I was able to film a family member arrow this deer in 2018. Before that, we watched the buck work multiple scrapes and rubs at 5-15 yards. What an experience.
2. Serpentine Sr.
This deer has stuff going on all over the place. With daggers all around, and a big 4-point frame, it’s the type of deer you love to see. It’s certainly unique, and not one that’s common in the deer woods. The buck looks like a menace to fight.
3. Army Swiss Knife
Another deer with points just going everywhere, this whitetail has an Army Swiss Knife on top of its head. That’s a pile of blades just ready to wreak havoc on unsuspecting foes. What a difficult deer to push around this one would be.
4. Mr. Club
This poor buck really has something going wrong with it. While it’s hard to be sure, it appears to have damage the antler early in the growing cycle. Therefore, it turned downward and blood started pooling in that club-like growth. Actually, this can be a dangerous situation for a deer, as it might end up bleeding out, situation depending.
5. Saggy Steve
Another downturned deer, this situation doesn’t seem quite as severe. Nonetheless, something caused its antlers to mess up, ultimately leaving it with a saggy spike on its left side. Sure, it looks weird, but it happens.
This deer is yet one more buck with a downturned set of antlers. Again, due to injury, it likely damaged it early in the growth cycle. Thus, it produced a “broken” antler that messed up and turned into what it appears to be here.
7. The Hook
This buck also grew a weird set of antlers. It looks to have protruded out and then grew upward tines. In time, it produced a couple of hooks that make it look like that eye-patch pirate in that movie that doesn’t care much for pixies and feral kids.
Another weird-looking buck, this one sports a pile of sky-reaching tines. They just didn’t grow like antlers typically do. These are very much in non-typical form, and that’s pretty cool. What a wild set of antlers.
9. The Unicorn
Everyone says unicorns are fictitious, mystical creatures. But here we have a real-life example of a unicorn in action. He’s munching on soybeans and living his life. And he’s here to show everyone that unicorns still live in the wild.
10. Tough Guy
You wouldn’t know it by this photo, but the year before (in 2013), he was a heavy, mature, massive 150-inch 8-pointer. I know, because I followed him for years, and he has a unique tear in his left ear. Somehow, as shown in the photo, he lost his left-hind foot just above the ankle. It led to a crazy sets of future antlers, until he was harvested by a hunter a few years later.
11. Old Man Winter
Ever seen a buck that showed his age quite like this one? For me, just this one. It’s ancient, and those sunken eyes and unbelievably large bases tell the tale. This whitetail is ancient, and that’s pretty cool.
12. The Linebacker
By the antlers, this deer shouldn’t have a body this big. It should sport a nice 130- to 140-inch rack. But it doesn’t. Not even close. It’s about a 20-inch spiker that procrastinated big time during the antler growth phase. I’ve never seen a greater mismatch in the age-to-rack ratio.
13. The Underperformer
Another Kentucky buck that should have grown a bigger rack, this deer has only five points. All the while, it’s at least 3 ½ years old, maybe 4 ½. It’s just further info to suggest that not all mature bucks grow big racks. Some put on a set of antlers like this one.
14. Field Goal
Do we have any NFL fans out there? This deer has a left-side antler that might be a regulation-sized field goal post (for paper-flicking football). Nonetheless, this is a cool buck, and one worth noting for his unique set of antlers.
15. Devil Deer
This deer, however, I’m no fan of. It looks too much like a devil in a deer costume. It gives bad vibes, for sure. I just wonder what the next sets of antlers looked like. But then again, maybe I don’t want to know. Freaky buck, for sure.
Conclusion: Is It Genetics?
So, after all of these deer, what’s the answer? Was it genetics? Were they cull bucks? Absolutely not. These are bucks, just like any others.
First off, the overwhelming majority of research on the effectiveness of culling suggests it doesn’t work. You can’t improve the genetics of a wild deer herd by removing “inferior” bucks. Without getting long-winded, there are several reasons why. Genetics are too engrained in the herd. Does contribute 50% of the antler genetic code. Big bucks don’t always sire big bucks. Little bucks don’t always sire little bucks. Environment plays a major role. The list goes on.
Furthermore, it’s been proven that a significant percentage of “weird” antlers are a result of injury. These include damage to the pedicle before the growing phase, damage to the antlers during the growing phase, and even bodily injuries that impacted antler growth.
So, no, genetics aren’t always to blame. And even if they were, there isn’t much to do about it. Nor should you try. Bucks are bucks. Let them be what they are.