Carroll County Buck Limps Into Range

This north Georgia buck had crazy long hooves, a condition called foundering.

Brad Gill | December 13, 2020

Keith Pike, of Mt. Zion, was hunting on Nov. 27 in Carroll County when he saw a nice buck that was limping as it walked. Keith shot the deer, and when he recovered it, he discovered that both front hooves were long and curved.

“I’ve never seen both front hooves look like his,” said Keith.

Keith is a long-time GON fan and reached to us to figure out what in the world caused the buck to grow such strange hooves. We contacted WRD’s State Deer Biologist Charlie Killmaster, and he identified the condition as “foundering”

“Foundering, or the excessive growth of deer hooves, is usually caused by excessive amounts of carbohydrates in the diet such as corn or acorns. The condition may also be caused by a copper deficiency but rarely causes problems for deer in either case,” said Charlie.

During Georgia’s hunting season, there’s a pile of deer that have a heavy diet consisting of acorns and corn. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in foundering cases when compared to 20 years ago when far fewer hunters put out corn or set up feeding stations.

“I would say it’s a pretty rare condition, I only hear about a handful of cases each year,” said Charlie. “I think an over-abundance of carbs in the diet is probably more the result of some individual deer—for whatever reason—to overeat on acorns/corn or have a lack of other food sources to balance it out.  This really isn’t a well-studied issue in wild deer because it’s so difficult to study and really doesn’t justify the funding since there’s no real cause for concern. Most of what we know about it stems from livestock and captive deer that don’t have a free-choice diet like wild deer.”

So whatever caused this particular buck to grow long hooves will never be known, but it’s just another crazy thing hunters get to encounter in the deer woods. When you see things of interest, please email GON at [email protected].


Keith Pike with his Carroll County buck that had a condition called foundering.

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  1. dantull on December 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Found a horse carcass of wild pony that had not had hooves trimmed in years. Same condition, but longer.

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