(CBS Local) — A Mississippi man’s four-year quest to hunt down a rare six-point buck ended with the startling discovery that the deer was even more unique than the hunter believed.
According to reports, Stan Ethredge of Philadelphia, Mississippi had first spotted the animal as a six-point buck over four years earlier and believed the deer’s antlers would probably stay that size. “He dropped his antlers and grew six points again. After the second year he was a 6-point, I figured that was all he was going to be. I figured he was a good cull buck, but I never got a shot at him,” Ethredge said.
To the hunter’s surprise, when the deer returned the following year he had not shed his antlers as the animals normally do after the winter. The buck then began to grow even more points around his existing antlers. Ethredge’s outdoor cameras also spotted that the deer had stopped losing the velvet coating on its antlers too. “He had a big drop tine on one side. I knew something was going on with him,” the Mississippi resident added.
On October 20, Ethredge came face-to-face with the abnormal creature again and was able to get a shot off with his crossbow. The shot proved to be a fatal blow and after a short chase, the hunter discovered just how unusual his prize had become. The deer’s antlers had evolved into a 36-point mass of velvet-covered twists and turns.
Officials at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife believe the odd growth has something to do with the buck’s lack of reproductive organs. “Something caused the deer to stop producing testosterone,” deer program coordinator William McKinley said. The wildlife official noted that deer can sometimes injure or even castrate themselves while jumping over a fence and that could be the cause of buck’s unique antlers.
“It could have been disease. It could have been a number of things. If a deer doesn’t have testosterone the antlers continue to grow. They never harden and they never lose velvet,” Mckinley added. “This wasn’t a deer of a lifetime. It’s a deer of several lifetimes.”