The weirdest deer of the year

Some deer hunting stories are memorable not because of the size of a buck you tag, but because of how suddenly the hunt dwindles. And some deer hunts are weirder than others. Well, these are the weirdest deer hunting stories we’ve seen all year — and there really were quite a few weird deer hunts. This review really highlights one of the fundamental truths of deer hunting: You never know what might happen when you hit the woods.

1) A Bald Buck

the hunter poses with the hairless deer
The boy looked healthy despite his lack of hair. Jay Sweeper

This deer is strange. Really disappointing. On December 1, Illinois hunter Jay Kehrer shot what he initially thought was a young melanistic buck. But when he went to retrieve the deer, he discovered it was something else entirely. The strange coloring of the deer turned out to be completely hairless, except for the scent glands, pubic area and tips of the ears. It’s not clear why the buck was in such an unusual condition, but a state biologist said it appeared to be healthy. Kehrer says he planned to eat it – just like any other deer that has been hunted.

2) The weirdest hunting buddy ever

It can be fun to share the deer woods with a buddy – but I can guarantee you’ve never had a hunting buddy like this one. This November, Wisconsin hunter Asher Torbeck encounters an emu that had escaped from a nearby enclosure. The large flightless bird stayed in the area for several days, often near Torbeck’s tree stand. Eventually, the emu even helped distract a small buck while Torbeck shot it. The next day, Torbeck returned and helped capture and return his unusual “hunting companion” to his rightful home.

3) Mr. Three Eyes

three-eyed deer
A deer expert called the condition “extremely rare.” Double Nickel Taxidermy

This fall, we saw several antlered stripers, heard stories about bucks and reader field reports of cactus bucks and piebalds. But there was only one three-eyed stag. The rare Texas boy was harvested on November 9 and posted on Facebook by Jon Wilson of Double Nickel Taxidermy in New Braunfels, Texas. “I never saw a deer with three eyes!” he wrote. “What looked like an abscess at first was later found to be a fully formed eye under the skin … Nature sure is amazing!”

4) A dollar two-for-one

hunter with stag with antlers attached to dead head
The hunter was given a special permit to keep the dead head. Mike Lewis

A Missouri hunter tagged one of the strangest deer of the year during a morning hunt on October 29. What he thought was unusual as he got closer turned out to be a good buck with the skull of a dead ram in his antlers. Mike Lewis, 52, called it a “once-in-a-lifetime hunt” and estimates his combined buck and buck score at about 120 to 125 inches B&C.

Related: What is a buck cactus and why do they grow such horns?

5) A Buck cactus for the ages

boy poses with buck cactus
Permanent velvet had spread across the deer’s face. Justin Pruitt

Deer don’t get much weirder than the cactus killed Nov. 3 by Beau Pruitt, an eight-year hunter in Georgia. Pruitt and his father had chased the deer for years before the young hunter finally shot it while it was feeding on a patch of clover on his grandfather’s property. So-called “cactus bucks” suffer from a condition known as cryptorchidism. They never shed their velvet and instead accumulate antler growth year after year throughout their lives.

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