Three Legs And 169 Inches Of Antler

Clay County buck is a perfect example of how injuries can affect a buck’s antler growth from one year to the next.

Nick Carter | January 1, 2011

Need an example of how antler production can be affected by injuries, look no further than the crazy non-typical rack on this three-legged Clay County buck killed by David Herold, of Crawfordville, Fla., on Nov. 21.

It’s going to be interesting to see how a scorer will stretch and bend the tape to come up with an official score for this buck, but two independent sources have measured the gross inches of antler at 169.

David was hunting a friend’s private property when he saw the buck walking across a clearcut the afternoon of Nov. 21. David said the buck wasn’t chasing, but the one remaining tarsal gland was stained dark and stinking.

“Now this is a prime example of buck fever,” David said, recounting the story of his first shot at the buck.

At 150 yards, David fired a clean miss at the buck. It then ran out to 250 yards and gave David another opportunity. David steadied his .270 and killed the deer.

But the hunt story is not the interesting part of the hunt for this buck; it is the progression of its antler growth. Before the 2009-10 hunting season, trail-camera photos from the property show a buck with a giant 4×7 rack, still in velvet. The property’s hunters knew they had a shooter, but it wasn’t until December that one of them got a shot at the buck.

“Someone else shot him chasing a doe last year but never could find him,” said David. “We knew he hit him, because there was blood, but they never did find him. We assumed he was dead.”

Following last year’s deer season, another trail-camera photo showed the same buck with the same rack, only now it was missing its rear, right leg.

David Herold (right) and a friend display the crazy rack that measured 169 gross inches.

Fast-forward to this season. September trail-camera photos show the three-legged buck, now 5 1/2 years old, has regrown an enormous rack, but now its left main beam is pointed backward with a gnarled mass of tines.  The deformed antler is on the opposite side of the deer’s body from the missing right rear leg. No one saw the buck in person until David shot it, but they knew it was on the property because of his tracks.

“He kind of hopped when he walked. You could tell it was him walking from the tracks,” said David. “You could see the marks from his dew claws on his front legs.”

Now that it is all said and done — short of an official score — and the buck is hanging on the wall, David said he is happier with the giant non-typical rack than he would have been with a more typical rack.

This photo shows David Herold’s buck in August 2009 with an impressive 4×7 10-point rack. Another photo shows the buck after it was shot in December 2009. It is missing a leg but has not yet shed its antlers from 2009. Below: In September 2010, the buck seems to be getting along on three legs, but its headgear grew back dramatically different from the year before.

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