The 2018 muzzleloader season is one I’ll never forget as long as I live. The weather forecast was calling for rain at the end of the week so I took the first chance I had to get out on Tuesday December 11. I was running late and scrambling around the house to gather my muzzleloading supplies to try and make it to the blind before dark.
I finally arrived at my destination in the powerline blind around 4:15 pm. It was calm that evening with a slight breeze blowing in my face which was perfect for this setup. I had all intentions in taking a doe if the opportunity presented itself.
I was hustling on the walk in and not being as quiet as I normally would be but I knew I only had an hour of daylight to hunt. This actually ended up playing to my advantage. About a half an hour went by when I looked to my right and out popped a deer.
I immediately noticed it was a buck and a pretty nice one at that. I grabbed my binoculars to take a closer look and couldn’t believe my eyes. The buck turned its head and looked at me and I noticed something was out of place. The right antler was normal with a nice main beam and brow tine, along with two tines. This was the side I saw when he first stepped out.
The left antler on the other hand looked anything but normal. The main beam bent kind of backwards and down is the best way to describe it. I had to do a triple take as I had never seen a buck like this before. Then I noticed he was missing half of his back right leg. All of this was processing in my brain in a split second. Right then I knew I had to try and get a shot as I slowly reached for my muzzleloader.
I leaned back in the blind so the buck couldn’t see me raise the gun. I turned and got into shooting positon as I slowly eased the barrel out the window. The buck picked his head up and looked at the blind a couple times but luckily he didn’t spook.
I took a couple of deep breathes as I settled the open sights behind the shoulder. The buck was feeding with its head down about 75 yards away. I squeezed the trigger and the smoke rolled. Just as it cleared I saw the buck was down and couldn’t believe what happened.
I don’t have any pictures of this buck on my trail cameras and have no clue where he came from. I think he was bedded down in the hollow and heard me walk in and was coming to investigate. The injury to his back right leg caused the opposite side of his rack to grow abnormal.
In a QDMA article it states that “Major skeletal injuries, such as broken legs, can sometimes have strange and unexpected effects on the future antler growth of whitetail bucks. The neurological connection isn’t completely understood or easily explained, but such effects have been documented many times.”
The crazy 8 point is a classic example of the neurological connection between antler growth and skeletal structure. The buck is missing all the bones below the femur and the wound had healed over. It’s a clean break and I can only imagine what caused it. It truly is amazing that this buck survived considering how many coyotes there are nowadays.
A DNR wildlife manager aged the buck to be at least 4 ½ if not 5 ½ years old. I’m going to European mount the crazy 8 as he’s the most unique buck I’ve ever seen. It just goes to show that’s why they call it hunting as this buck appeared out of nowhere like a ghost. I still can’t believe it happened and feel very blessed and fortunate that I made it to the blind before dark that day.
Here’s a link to the QDMA article: https://www.qdma.com/leg-injuries-can-affect-antler-growth/