March 23, 2021
While walking their dogs in Montgomery County, Missouri, on February 10, 2019, a couple stumbled upon a find that could change the whitetail world forever.
So, why are you just now hearing about the deer? Well, after the whitetail skull was found in the winter of 2019, no one knew for certain the deer’s gender. Since then, the Troy, Missouri, taxidermist who repaired the rack and mounted the deer has done extensive research with locals and anyone who may have had any information on the deer. And he’s put many pieces of the puzzle together, it seems.
For starters, the sheer size of the deer’s rack has led many to believe the whitetail must have been a “cactus buck” — meaning a buck with a testicular abnormality called cryptorchidism that can prevent antler shedding and velvet stripping. However, what evidence we do have suggests otherwise.
The taxidermist has discovered that the deer is believed to have only been seen alive by a couple of motorists. After those motorists snapped a photo of the deer, however, everyone they knew began hunting the deer, but to no avail.
During the rut, when rises in testosterone cause bucks necks to swell and increase in size, the neck on this deer never did, according to trail camera photographs. To many, this suggests the mystery deer must be a female. However, an absence of swelling of the neck doesn’t necessarily prove the deer is a doe. Some cactus bucks and bucks with major hormonal issues have doe-like appearances during the rut.
Other trail camera photos are playing a large role in determining this unique whitetail’s sex. One rear-facing photo of the deer has convinced many onlookers that no male sex organs are present, specifically testicles. In another grainy rear-facing photograph of the deer running away, one could argue that testicles are visible.
When determining the deer’s sex, it’s important to know if the animal shed its antlers every year, as healthy biological males do. However, that’s where the story behind this Missouri mystery buck gets even weirder.
It’s believed the deer did not shed its antlers annually. But there is a photograph of the deer in early spring that appears to show a new set of antlers growing from the base of the skull. As can be the case with both antlered does and cryptorchid males though, the antlers never truly harden and are thus constantly in a fragile state. So it’s entirely possible that the deer’s rack had been broken off and was simply growing back.
Currently, bits and pieces of intel about this bizarre whitetail continue to find their way to us. As we continue to gather more information about the special animal, only one thing is totally concrete: the deer grew a rack of phenomenal proportions!
If the deer is in fact determined to be a doe, it stands to beat the current world record antlered doe, also from Missouri. The current top-ranking antlered doe was taken by Doug Laird back in 2014. Laird’s doe scored 189 1/8 net non-typical.
It’s important to note, the rack on the deer in question has proven to be extremely difficult to measure. One look at the highly-abnormal antlers proves they’re a tangled web of points. In fact, it’s been hard for measurers to identify main beams on the rack from which to draw a reference.
When the skull was found, the rack had several broken points. Even with the missing inches of antler, the 60-point non-typical rack scored an astounding 269 3/8 gross and 245 2/8 net, as best as the mystery deer could be scored. After repairs were made by the before-mentioned taxidermist, to reconstruct the rack based on photos, the altered 64-point rack tallies up an even more astonishing 334 5/8 gross and 300 2/8 net.
To put this into perspective, the world famous Missouri Monarch, found dead near St. Louis in 1981, stands not only as the state’s non-typical record but also the Boone & Crockett world record non-typical at 333 7/8 net.
Anxious to seek professional opinion from their own trusted source, North American Whitetail staff forwarded information and photos of the deer to biologist and founder of the Institute for White-Tailed Deer Management and Research, Dr. James C. Kroll.
Dr. Kroll weighed in with the following analysis: “The deer is unique in two ways. First, it is obviously a cryptorchid male. This is a male that due to a genetic or embryonic malfunction, does not descend its testicles. This produces a hormone production issue with testosterone. Second, the buck continues to grow antlers over existing ones, but in rare cases later produces enough testosterone by its hidden testicles inside the body, plus the adrenal glands (which also produce testosterone) to harden its antlers. The deer is double unique!
As more information comes to light on this rare whitetail, stay tuned for a feature article with full details in North American Whitetail magazine. There we’ll provide more details on the ambiguous nature of the deer’s gender, as well as more hard-to-believe photos!