New York's 'Vampire' Buck

Have you ever heard of a whitetail with "fangs?" That just might be the best way to describe this bizarre trophy!

Although canine teeth are uncommon in whitetails, there's no missing them in this buck's upper jaw. Photo by Bruce Rose.

Until the fall of 1995, New York's Bruce Rose had never imagined that a whitetail could grow anything other than a normal set of teeth. But then, as the hunter examined the fine trophy he'd bagged that season, he discovered something strange: a canine tooth protruding from each side of the animal's upper jaw. For all the world, the teeth looked like a pair of fangs!

"Tell hunters of the Northeast to keep an eye out for the meat-eating bucks," Bruce joked to us here at North American Whitetail. But all kidding aside, what might cause such an oddity - and how rare is it in whitetails?


Let's tackle the second question first. Although canine teeth aren't part of a whitetail's normal dentition, they aren't unheard of, either. I've observed them on a few whitetails in Illinois, and taxidermists elsewhere occasionally discover them while caping. The canines are always well under an inch in length, even on older deer, so others probably are going unnoticed. Besides, how many hunters even would think to look for them?


Why do such teeth occur? The answer involves genetics - prehistoric genetics, to be more exact. The whitetail evolved from deer that originated in Asia tens of millions of years ago, and at least some of those early species had canines. In fact, even today some Old World species have pronounced canines. For example, various small Asian deer called muntjacs feature upper canines that in adult males are prolonged into "tusks." And the male musk deer often has 3-inch "tusks."

While the whitetail's genetic link to its Asian ancestors has weakened over the eons, the gene for these vestigial teeth is still out there. And when the right buck and doe mate, the trait potentially can show up in their offspring. At least, it can in their male progeny. It's reported that whitetail does never grow canines, though they certainly can pass on the gene to the next generation of deer.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore discusses the role scent plays when it comes to tracking and how to incorporate it into your training.

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

Dr. James Kroll provides tips for hunting whitetails with a handgun.

Illinois Muzzleloader Whitetail Hunt

Illinois Muzzleloader Whitetail Hunt

G.O. Heath is hunting with his muzzleloader in Illinois.

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

In this edition of "Deer Factory," Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss ways to help control predators on deer hunting property.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to provide them with the ones they can't. Off-Season

Which Minerals Do Deer Need?

Dr. James C. Kroll

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to...

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020! Guns

Best New Deer Hunting Rifles for 2020

Lynn Burkhead - January 29, 2020

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020!

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During different seasons, the nutritional requirements of bucks, does and fawns will vary slightly, but all three need water, protein, energy (fats and carbohydrates), calcium, phosphorus, sodium and fiber. Land Management

Whitetail Nutrition Calendar: What Deer Eat and When

Matt Haun

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During...

Even snow-white deer are fairly common in comparison to those that are abnormally dark in color. Deer Behavior & Facts

Rarest Whitetails Of All?

Gordon Whittington - September 22, 2010

Even snow-white deer are fairly common in comparison to those that are abnormally dark in...

See More Trending Articles

More Industry

Guner Womack's Oklahoma whitetail net scores in the 190s as an 8x8 typical. Industry

College Student Arrows Potential Oklahoma State Record Buck

Lynn Burkhead - October 25, 2019

Guner Womack's Oklahoma whitetail net scores in the 190s as an 8x8 typical.

As Hurricane Harvey struck the upper Texas coast in late August, video and photos of swimming deer Industry

Texas Whitetails Riding Out Hurricane Harvey

Gordon Whittington - March 08, 2018

As Hurricane Harvey struck the upper Texas coast in late August, video and photos of swimming...

A serial poacher will spend time behind bars after pleading no contest to six counts of failing to Industry

Deer Poacher Gets Hit with Jail Time

David Hart - September 02, 2015

A serial poacher will spend time behind bars after pleading no contest to six counts of...






A number of well-known deer hunters and other outdoorsmen from across North America have Industry

Living with Lyme Disease

Alli Armstrong - October 01, 2015

A number of well-known deer hunters and other outdoorsmen from across North America have

See More Industry

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now