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Sick Buck & Fragile Antlers


Well-Known Member
SG Season 1 this past weekend, I harvested a mature 140ish - 150ish 8 point buck on Sunday. He made it back to his feet and I thought, man, I know he had both antlers when I shot him. He staggered a few yards off, only to run into one of our drivers, who finished him off. No signs of prior injury, but the only time I've ever seen an antler dropped like that was from a sickly injured deer. This buck looked healthy, just not a real big neck and not real heavy for this time of year. Then I went to field dress him. Oh my goodness. I don't know how that deer was still alive. He was full of nastiness. Pockets of green fluid and a large mixture of cottage cheese and tapioca pudding filled his chest cavity around his heart and lungs. The stench was almost more than I could handle. I had to turn away to get some fresh air 5 or 6 times while gutting. Then I got to gagging and hacking just thinking about it on my walk back to get my truck. I've seen nasty antler goring infections in deer and bullet and arrow wound infections in deer, but I've never seen anything like this before. I was going to do a euro mount on him after I put a dowel rod in the antler and skull, but as I was pulling him out of the truck, the other antler popped off too. Guess I've got a nice solid set of new rattlers. Unfortunately, his carcass is feeding the buzzards on my burn pile. I couldn't leave him in the field, I can't eat him, and my garbage service won't haul him away. One of the better bucks I've harvested during SG season, (mostly does to fill freezers), so I'm a little bummed from that, but more bummed that we can't eat him. I guess we'll get to bird watch for the next few weeks as the scavengers pick him apart, so not all bad. Bald eagles have picked over my bone piles in the past, so it will be interesting to see what shows up on an entire carcass and see how long he lasts.

Anybody else ever encounter this type of thing? Nearly 35 years of deer hunting. I've participated in hundreds and hundreds of deer harvests, field dressing and processing, and this is a first for me.


PMA Member
Anybody else ever encounter this type of thing?
Bummer! I haven't personally but my step-father-in-law shot a nice buck a few years ago he called me to come take a look at it. Couldn't see any injuries but that thing stank bad and the meat was way off color. He chucked it too.


Well-Known Member
About 20 years ago, I seen a buck bedded with a doe in a picked cornfield.
I belly crawled through alot of mud but got in range.
Arrowed him, in his bed.
When I went to gutt/skin him, same as you. He had puncture wounds/puss pockets I gagged.
Hated to do it but I just cut of his head and the rest went to coyotes.
He was an old buck and his tines were purty bloody. Must been a hell of a battle.


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Best friend shot one during shotgun years ago that was all green and not fit for consumption.

I shot one during a shotgun season that I had on trailcam with a festering wound in a rear ham all summer. I called the DNR and they came and picked it up, so I didn't have to burn a tag due to it being not fit for human consumption. They said I'd have to burn my tag to keep the rack, but I took pics which was good enough.

A neighbor's group shot a buck one shotgun season and said the antlers came off on the drag out and the hooves were kind of sloughing. I asked what they did with it and they took it to the local locker for processing. I'm sure it ended up in the "community" sausage that was made after season. o_O


Well-Known Member
Birds haven't found him yet. I'll take another look for preexisting injuries. From initial inspection, I think he was just sick. Hopefully I'm not patient zero for a new strain of Covid...

Taking bad meat to the community locker is rotten. I know it happens and am always a little suspect of my venison products because of it. I bit down on a birdshot pellet the other day.


Active Member
I shot a doe a couple years ago that the chest cavity was full of what looked like bright yellow jello. Not puss and no smell to it but we did not eat that one.

We have killed several the last few years that the lungs were attached to the chest cavity. I asked a veterinarian about it and he said its common in cattle that have had pneumonia. Maybe they are ehd survivors?


Staff member
Did you take any pics of deer? Wonder if it’s like pneumonia or something? Or internal puncture of some type. Visualizing your story - pretty sick!! You did that dude a favor!!!


Well-Known Member
Did you take any pics of deer? Wonder if it’s like pneumonia or something? Or internal puncture of some type. Visualizing your story - pretty sick!! You did that dude a favor!!!
I didn't get any pics because I didn't want to touch anything with my hands until I got a chance to wash them about a dozen times at lunch time. A hunting buddy took 2 pics of his boys holding the legs as I field dressed the (at the time) one antlered buck. Looks like a standard in the field pic. Probably should have had someone take pics of the internal nastiness. Probably still wouldn't have done it justice. No smell to go along with pics... They're tough resilient animals, but I would have put his odds of surviving winter at about 1%. That much internal infection puts a ton of stress on immune systems and organs. Especially with no medical treatment like sick livestock receive.

EHD survivor, Pneumonia, Covid? Not sure. Hopefully the scavengers that find his gut pile and carcass can't spread it, whatever it is/was. Pretty sure savaging birds have like a bullet proof immune system when it comes to getting disease from dead stuff though.
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