Hunter tags Cactus Buck with Incredible Antler Growth

An eight-year-old north Georgia hunter killed an extremely rare elk early last month while hunting a food plot on his grandfather’s property. Georgia’s dollar rack was massive, but not in the traditional sense. Instead of threads, she had a strange flow of permanent velvet that completely engulfed both of her main beams and even spread over the animal’s face.

Beau Pruitt, the young hunter who shot the deer, had been chasing it since the start of Georgia’s youth rifle season when he finally made the fatal shot from a blind box on November 3rd. But his father, Justin Pruitt, said he had been watching for several years.

“He wasn’t that big at first, and he still had a neat shape to his horns,” Justin said later. Georgia Outdoors News. “You could see some spots on his horns in the early years. But this year the horns became so big that [they] covered his eyes.”

Photos of Beau’s deer show a rack that resembles a giant set of antlers, with knobs of hardened velvet that completely hide any normal antler growth that might be hiding underneath. According to a Georgia-based deer biologist, it’s the result of a rare birth defect called cryptorchidism.

buck cactus
Pruitt’s father, Justin, first laid eyes on the rare cactus a few years ago. Justin Pruitt

The condition is usually caused when the testicles fail to descend and never fully develop, which completely depletes testosterone levels. Because testosterone cycles regulate antler development, cryptorchid male deer tend to grow wild-looking antlers that never fully materialize. And they don’t shed their velvet like a typical buck will every fall.

Read further: New Jersey Hunter Tag Gorgeous 10-point Piebald Buck

According to the National Deer Association, bucks with cyptorchidism — also known as cactus bucks — do not engage in normal scratching behavior. They don’t rub or scratch and their necks don’t swell the way a typical buck wants to during the fall mating season. They cannot reproduce and never shed their horns. Instead, they accumulate antler growth year after year, which explains the impressive size Pruitt’s deer had developed by the time he harvested it.

Justin Pruitt said the deer was his son’s first buck, and he plans to have it mounted on the shoulder by a local taxi driver. “The shot was a little off, so we pulled back and found it the next day,” Pruitt told F&S. “Beau was so excited when we walked up. He says he will hang the mountain next to his football, baseball and basketball trophies.”

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