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Update: Alabama Big-Nose Buck

In this post yesterday I showed you the latest entry to our collection of whitetail deer with mysteriously swollen noses. Here’s a little more from Courtney Stanley, who shot the rutting buck in January 2015 near Furman, AL:

al court 2015 big noseMike: I had him on a camera a few miles away. I was bleating and grunting and he came out by himself. He weighed 160, and only had a scar on his lip (although his nose was clearly swollen). I gave the head to my taxidermist and he is in close contact with QDMA; he sent the head over for them to examine, and I’ll let you know what we find out.—C.S.

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Alabama Hunter Shoots Big-Nose “Bullwinkle” Buck

For 6 years we’ve been building a databank of deer afflicted with mysteriously swollen snouts. We call them “big-nose” here on BIG DEER; they are also referred to as “Bullwinkle” in some circles.

The first case we reported was a big-nose buck from Michigan. Subsequently we have documented whitetails with swollen snouts from Texas, South Carolina, Florida and Minnesota.

al big nose courtneyYesterday I got this picture from Courtney, who just shot this big-nose buck near Furman, Alabama. No doubt the biggest buck we’ve seen with a swollen nose!

So what causes it? As this article from QDMA explains: “The swollen snouts of afflicted deer result from chronic (long-term) inflammation of the tissues of the nose, mouth and upper lip… How and where deer acquire the Bullwinkle bacteria is still unknown.”

Another common question I get: “Is a big-nose deer safe to eat?”

I have always advised NOT to eat the meat of an afflicted deer, and the QDMA concurs: “We don’t recommend (eating the meat). The long-term nature of the infection could mean that bacteria are present in the blood and muscle, or a secondary infection could also have developed. Better to be safe than sorry.”

In fact BIG DEER documented just that with a Minnesota big-nose doe. As the hunter cleaned it, he found nasty secondary infections in and around some bones and meat. So don’t eat the venison!

If you see or hear of anybody shooting a big-nose deer (now or in the past) be sure to send us info/pictures for our growing databank.




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Bowhunting Shot Placement: Buck Confirms “No Man’s Land” Exists

Can you shoot an arrow through a mysterious vacuum of tissue and air beneath a buck’s spine and above the lungs, and have that deer run off to live another day? Or will a broadhead shot here most certainly clip the lungs and/or cut vital arteries and kill the deer, even if you never find it?

If you’ve ever pulled a shot high—and who amongst us hasn’t?—you’ve agonized over this as you tracked on a sparse blood trail, looking for a “dead” deer that might never have materialized.

Is this “no man’s land” conundrum for real, or a myth?

Dr. Grant Woods, one of the nation’s top deer biologists and a hard-core bowhunter, told me one time:  ”This is a frequent debate among bowhunters. Both sides hold solidly to their opinions. This is probably because both sides are correct, at least according to their observations.”

Bowhunting across the country the last 35 years, I have seen strange and unexplainable things happen when I or others shot a deer too high above the lungs and beneath the spine. I count myself a cautious believer that no man’s land does indeed exist.

OK, that is the backstory. Now to this email I got from Zach the other day:

no mans land zach

Hello Mike: I shot an 8 pointer last Wednesday 1/14/15 on an evening sit. I knew the shot was a bit high but felt good about the placement. No blood at spot of impact. Blood started about 40 yards away and I had a nice steady trail. Snow did help. Followed him about a quarter mile into a thick cedar bedding area. Never went into the bedding area that night, I left him lay until the morning. I thought for sure he would bed down and not get up.

Went back in the morning and walked up within 20 yards of him staring at me. He took a couple good leaps and I backed out. I did check his bed and there was a nice pool of blood in it. I backed out just hoping he would stick around the area; I just didn’t give him enough time. Went back the next morning and same thing. After the second time I jumped him, I felt I should just be more patient but should still keep looking, so I gave him a few days.

Went back a third time and with fresh snow found a couple beds with far less blood and a bit of puss in them. Made me think he is not a dead deer but a healing wounded deer. Went back the other day over a week later and no sign of him anywhere. I’ve been running a few cameras just to see if he would show up.

Sure enough he showed his face one evening. I attached a picture of him. No man’s land, you can clearly see entry hole up on his side. Hope this helps to confirm the no man’s land theory. Thanks—Zach


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