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Non-Typical Injury?

One of our readers, Jim Ross, shared this question regarding non-typical whitetails and a deer he recently harvested. Jim writes…..”Notice the “switch-blade” drop tines on his right side. Also note his very normal left side. My understanding has always been, that if a buck was injured on his right side (say for example, got nicked in the hind-quarter by a car, but lived), then his opposite side antler (left) might be deformed in the future.” inj1


Does this deer have a “hidden” injury causing it’s abnormal antler formation?

“When I processed the deer, I noticed his right hind-quarter did NOT have a traditional “ball & socket”. The socket was “somewhat” there, but it was kind of deformed, and there was NO traditional ball seated anywhere near the socket. So my guess is he had the right hind-quarter injured some time in his life, or perhaps it was just a genetic thing from birth. Anyway, it was peculiar to me that his SAME SIDE antler turned out non-typical. Again, I thought it was just the opposite. My son, who is an Orthopedic Surgeon, suggested that it may have had “Hip Dysplasia”; much like certain breeds of dogs get. I just wonder if there is a correlation between genetic defects and antler growth.

If you have any theories about what might have caused this buck to grow a non-typical set of antlers on the same side as an apparent injury please let us know. Our thoughts are that perhaps the buck may have an injury on the LEFT side that was unnoticed, or perhaps it is just one of those instances when a whitetail breaks all of the rules…..which they so often do.


  1. Dan Richardson says:

    All the non typicals on one side I have had my hands on had an injury on the opposite side, interesting he had it on the same side. 2 years ago my friend shot a nice one sided non typ, As it was hanging i noticed he had a club foot that was twice the size as it should be opposite the non typ side. Im guessing unseen injury internal!

  2. We need to see a piece with info from a biologist. Maybe they could answer some of the questions presented here.

  3. I wonder if birth defects, as opposed to outside "bodily" injury, has the opposite effect on a whitetails antlers? Not sure but it is an interesting case nonetheless.

  4. Jeff Kaye. says:

    Very interesting. I suppose from my experience I have seen both. I've seen goofy sides with a broadhead on the other. I've also seen it with no apparent injury. I guess I never really investigated further then a normal skin job. In my view I would say if that gene isn't normal in the area it most likely is a cause if some sort of injury or genetic malfunction.

  5. Tim Ainsworth says:

    I have heard the opposite side theory as well. I killed a buck in 2010 that had a busted up right rear leg and a droptine on his left side. I am not sure I have ever heard about genetic abnormalites/ defects having the effects mentioned above. One thing is for sure, these animals are tough!

  6. Clinton says:

    I think that some deer are just naturally non typical. I know of a few deer around here that have had a drop tine on one side and the next year it was on the opposite.

  7. While I think that the theory of an injury being the cause of deformation to the opposite antler often holds true, there is much in the medical and biological world that just doesn't play by the rules. It's a science, but not an exact science. Like Steve, I'm curious if the correlations differ from injuries and defects?

  8. Troy S says:

    I recently read an interesting article in "Quality Whitetails". It was referencing bucks with a spike on one side and normal antler growth on the other. Though it doesn't reference drop-tine it does touch on irregular antler growth and it's potential influences. Sited in this article is how pedicle or skull trauma influences the following year antler growth. If a buck experiences damage to the base of the antler and it doesn't properly heal before growth begins then the development of that antler will be impacted. Sorry to muddy the water but this could also have been a cuase to the unusual growth of his left side antler. Congrats on the unique buck Jim! I know someone who is drooling over that buck.

  9. Dustin says:

    I think that just like anything else in life, there are very few absolutes or anything that "always" holds true. It seems this buck may be special in that both right sides are deformed.

  10. Branden says:

    i think the nontypical can be an injury do to a fight with a bigger buck. it mighat be when that antler gets damaged the year befor that it'll grow back to compensate of the damages

  11. Trevor says:

    In the past, I have heard if an injury occurs, usually the oposite side's antler is abnormal. Another question I would ask, is there any trail camera pictures or sightings of this buck in years past? Has he always grown his antlers this way? From the mass noticed in the picture, I judge him to be older and would like to know if he has grown the same in past years.

  12. In response to the first writer: "Any trail-cam pictures or sightings from years past – has he always grown his antlers this way"? Great question – that WOULD be nice to know. But no, I do not have any evidence that this buck grew antlers as such from years past. Her's another theory: Right-rear injury … same side antler impacted? Right-front injury … opposite side antler impacted? Who knows. As Steve has mentioned – would be nice to see if biologists have ever done research on this. Also, any deer processors out there that have noticed anything peculiar?

  13. SouthernGa.Tracker says:

    I always heard it was a calcium deficientcy or to much calcium that depends on thae rack. i never heard of the Wounded body side , opp antler will be grown rucked up.

  14. I too have witnessed the opposite side injury and antler deformity on a few deer over the years. It definitely would be nice to know more about these effects and others, such as birth defects or other injury related issues.


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