There are times in a hunter’s life where everything seems to fall into place naturally for the most amazing hunt they have ever experienced. Not often, but it does happen. For one Mississippi crossbow hunter that day arrived in the form of a 36-point “freak of nature.” Stan Ethredge, of Philadelphia Mississippi, made headlines when he bagged a deer that he had been hunting for literally four years.
Ethredge had seen this remarkable buck many times on his wildlife cameras around his property for four long years, but had never had the pleasure to see it in person let alone get a shot at it. His photographic documentation of this big buck allowed Ethredge to observe the growth of this deer’s rack go from a 6-point to a 36-point in just 3 years which isn’t all that common. The deer’s rack measures 227⅜ on the buck masters scoring system with an amazing 16-inch spread.
The photographs of this bucks rack leaves one to wonder exactly what kind of super-sludge he may have come in contact with to grow this kind of rack, but it is more likely that this 36-point buck is also believed to have suffered from what is called Bullwinkle Syndrome.
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This specific syndrome causes a deer’s muzzle to swell up in such a way that they look more like a moose. Bullwinkle Syndrome is the result of a long-term bacterial infection, but it’s unclear where this bacteria comes from. It isn’t clear however that Bullwinkle Syndrome had any bearing on this deer’s remarkable 36-point rank. You can clearly see the signs of Bullwinkle Syndrome in this deer in the video below:
According to WFAA
Stan Ethredge encountered the remarkable buck just once last year during hunting season but he wasn’t able to get a shot off with his crossbow. This year was a different story:
When this hunting season arrived, the buck had become a freak of nature. His antlers had grown into a mass of twisted and turned tines with massive bases. And he was still in velvet. Ethredge was almost able to harvest him right off the bat.
“I saw him opening day and it was right at dark and I didn’t want to mess him up,” Ethredge said. “I just watched him.”
Ethredge said the deer on his place have him patterned better than he has them patterned. In fact, he said that judging by the photos he see of bucks near his stands while he is away, he’s pretty sure they know his work schedule.
Ethredge would have normally been at work Oct. 20, but he took a vacation day. He figured the schedule change might fool the deer.
“I decided to hunt that evening because the deer thought I was at work,” Ethredge said. “It was about dark and a doe stepped out. She walked toward me and he stepped out. He got about 30 yards from me. I was telling my self to keep my composure. My heart was beating out of my chest.”
And he managed to calm himself enough to make the shot with his crossbow.
“As soon as I got the crosshairs on him, I shot,” Ethredge said. “He’s eluded me for years, so I didn’t want to let him get away. I shot him as soon as I got the chance. I felt pretty good about the shot. He turned and ran away the way he came. I sat there a while and it was the longest hour of my life.”
Still shaken by the heart-pounding experience, Ethredge got out of his stand and began tracking the animal. He immediately found blood on the ground..
“I started blood-trailing him and the blood got better,” Ethredge said. “I got about 75 yards and there he was.
“The first thing I did was thank God. It was amazing. There was just unbelievable stuff on his head. He had a couple of really big drop tines.”
As unusual as the antlers were, so were the buck’s reproductive organs, or lack thereof.
“Usually when their testicles are damaged, this happens,” Ethredge said. “He really didn’t have any. He had a slight bulge, but not like they should be.”
William McKinley, deer program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks said the deer’s antlers were consistent with a lack of testosterone production.
“Something caused the deer to stop producing testosterone,” McKinley said. “Sometimes bucks castrate themselves on a fence.
“It’s not common, but it’s not uncommon. It could have been disease. It could have been a number of things. If a deer doesn’t have testosterone the antlers continue to grow. They never harden and they never lose velvet.”
Depending on when a buck loses the ability to produce testosterone, one of two things will happen, but the outcome will be the same.
“If it happens in velvet, the antler growth will slow down, but never stop,” McKinley said. “If it happens when he has hardened antlers, he’ll shed his antlers and grow new ones that will never harden.”
McKinley may never be able to pinpoint exactly what caused the buck to stop producing testosterone, but one thing he’s sure of is that Ethredge harvested a truly rare deer.
“I told him this wasn’t a deer of a lifetime,” McKinley said. “It’s a deer of several lifetimes.”
This is one of those amazing stories that you almost had to be there to believe, but it is as real as it gets in the hunting world. Bagging this freak of nature will surely be the highlight of Ethredge’s life, something he will never again experience. Absolutely amazing!