Ask The Biologist

Someone Get a Dump Truck

Someone Get a Dump Truck

By Bob Humphrey

It’s difficult to diagnose deer health from a picture, but there is a definite problem here.

QUESTION: My brother in-law and I have been hunting a buck that has been a 7-pointer for the last four years. We figured he was at least 3 1/2 years old the first year we received trail camera pictures of him. We noticed about two years ago that this deer has extremely large genitals, the type you would see on a bull or billy goat. I’ve been hunting all my life and have never seen anything like it. Could that be why his antlers never get bigger?

ANSWER: My first inclination was to pass on this one but it’s just too weird not to take a swing at. Undescended testicles, also known as cryptorchidism, is a far more common congenital condition that can sometimes result in a buck being mistaken as an antlered doe or a hermaphrodite, and in some cases they may grow antlers but retain velvet indefinitely.

As a deer, or any mammal ages, collagen in the skin breaks down and the testes can sag, but not nearly to the degree in your photo.

This deer clearly suffered some sort of injury or affliction to its nether region. I once shot a buck that appeared to have suffered a hernia and part of its intestines had descended into its scrotum causing it to swell to almost the size of a basketball, although it did not sag. As for cause and effect, it’s quite possible whatever malady this poor buck suffered might also influence antler growth.

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