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What’s Up With These Deer Hooves? [PICS]

A bizarre find from a hunter in Louisiana gets an answer from a QDMA expert.

Our friends at the QDMA are amazing people – excellent hunters, skilled trackers, and always searching to get to the bottom of their fan mail questions with a solid answer. The following question recently came in from a QDMA member in Louisiana named Justin Forsten:

Hey [QDMA] hope you all are doing well and either had or are having a great season! I wanted you all to take a look at the hooves of a buck I killed on the evening of December 11, 2013. As you can tell from the pictures, his hooves are longer than any I have ever seen. I seem to remember reading that this could be the result of consuming too much carbohydrates in his diet but wanted to get your thoughts on what we are seeing here.

P.S. I had to show you all the hero shot too! (see the Gallery below) Justin Forsten
Wildlife and Timber Manager
Winter Quarters Hunting and Fishing Club

Here’s a photo of the buck in question, or as Justin calls it his ‘hero’ shot.

hero_shot__largeImage via: QDMA

Looks like a pretty normal buck, right? A real beaut too. What’s not so normal were obviously the deer hooves, which QDMA deer expert Kip Adams addressed in some quality points below.

Justin is correct, “hot” feeds can cause “foundering” or elongated hooves. Founder is a condition of the hoof that’s common in horses and to a lesser extent in cattle. It’s often caused by a high proportion of an animal’s diet being “hot” foods, meaning those high in energy. In deer, it’s often the result of animals receiving a high proportion of their diet from supplemental feed or bait piles using high-energy, high-carbohydrate foods, especially corn.

Some research also suggests it can be caused by a mineral imbalance – specifically a copper deficiency. Either way, ensuring high-quality natural forages and food plots are available year-round can prevent a dietary imbalance like this, so even if you provide supplemental feed, working to improve the habitat is still important to meet the year-round nutritional needs of whitetails.

After Adam’s reply, another QDMA member named Adam Folk chimed in with his story of finding a similar buck, tracking it, but ultimately losing it to another hunter.

I’ve been following a buck with this condition for 2 years now. I passed on him as a 2 1/2 yr old ten point. This year, as a 3 1/2 yr old 14 point, he was harvested by a local hunter. Check out the hooves on this guy!

originalImage via: Adam Folk/QDMA

Folk went on to explain passing the deer, as well as providing a little more history into where it was seen.

Been following this buck for 2 years now. Filmed him in the summer in my uncle’s soybean field and had trail camera videos of him near my treestand. Was sad to hear he was harvested but at the same time I was happy that someone got a nice trophy. When I tell people I passed on him as a ten point the year before they call me crazy, but that’s what it takes to grow big deer.

That’s what it takes indeed, and we commend Folk for being happy for the local hunter who was able to cash in in on his patience.

Like Adams said at the beginning of this article, the deer in these photos are likely suffering from a imbalance in their macro-nutrients and consuming far too many carbohydrates or a lack of copper in their diet. Regardless of the reason, these issues can be prevented on your property if you invest the proper amount of time in a food plot and other natural feeding opportunities for deer.

Related: How To Use Winter’s Chill to Improve Your Food Plots

What are your thoughts on deer feed nutrients? Do you grow food plots on your land? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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What’s Up With These Deer Hooves? [PICS]