Some might say Christmas came early for Lee Summers, of Monroe. He took down a rare buck still in velvet on Nov. 15.
While hunting that Sunday on private land in Lamar County, Lee and his son spotted three does. Closely following was the unusual buck.
“At first it looked like something was hanging from his antlers,” said Lee.
The duo sat watching for a bit longer waiting for a chance to get a shot at the deer. Just before the buck appeared about to leave, Lee had a clear shot and fired.
After getting out of the stand to retrieve the buck, Lee realized that the buck’s rack was still completely in velvet.
“At the time, I didn’t know why or how that was possible,” said Lee.
A buck that keeps its velvet indefinitely year after year is often referred to as a “cactus buck.” It can be caused by injury to the male parts, or, when one or both testes don’t descend into the scrotum of a deer, the condition is called “cryptorchidism.” The result of this condition in a buck is a lower-than-normal level of testosterone, which means antlers don’t go through normal cycles. Antlers on these deer grow in odd shapes, the velvet remains year-round, and the antlers go on growing without being shed. The antlers will continue to grow causing a fuzzy, cactus-like look.
While this is not unheard of, it is rare.
Lee took the deer to Ray Knight at Alcovy Taxidermy, who said that he suspects the buck was approximately 5 1/2 years old.