Thursday, October 11, 2012

Odd Antlers

I was privelged this week to see these unusual antlers on a buck that was taken with bow and arrow in Southern Illinois.  I have seen similar antlers on a female deer several years ago.

The knobby ends of the antlers are a consistency similar to cartilage, and appeared to be pretty delicate. 

We sent photos to a wildlife biologist, and talked about it on the phone.   The gum tissue on the upper jaws of this deer was very soft, and had not toughened up normally, and the deer probably had a very limited diet.  The hunter had butchered it already, and there was almost no fat in this deer.  The biologist had a couple of ideas;  it might be caused by a virus, but there was almost certainly a physical injury to the deer at a young age that interfered with his normal hormonal production.

The hunter who wants to display antlers like this has a big problem.  The soft tissue makes great food for bugs, and the deer will need regular fumigation or freezing to prevent it from being turned into dust and frass. 

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