We thought we had seen the weirdest of the weird with that three-eyed buck, which was shot in Texas about a month ago. We should have known that nature had a few other curveballs to throw out before this season was done. Illinois hunter Jay Kehrer's buck being a prime example. The deer he harvested during the Illinois shotgun season was almost completely hairless!
Kehrer and his family have a tradition of hunting the shotgun season in Illinois every year, according to a post on Kehrer's Facebook page. They had photos of this buck on their Spypoint Cams, but they couldn't quite tell what was going on with the unusual animal.
"In the sun his coat looked red. In the shade it looked brown. So, we named him Hershey since he looked chocolate colored," Kehrer wrote in his Facebook post. "We thought it could possibly be one of the Melanistic deer. Opposite coloring of an albino deer."
Additionally, Kehrer told Wide Open Spaces they have had some piebald deer in the area. So it's not out of the question to assume this was simply another unusual color phase. A little later, Kehrer's dad had a close encounter with the animal and got some more photos. But the hunters still couldn't figure out exactly what they were looking at. It wasn't until the buck was finally on the ground that Kehrer and his son Lucas realized the buck was probably a little chilly.
"Lucas and I just stood there in shock as to what we were looking at," Kehrer's post reads. "We circled it several times trying to grasp just what we were looking at. We couldn't find anything wrong with it except it was naked!"
Truly puzzled by his unusual harvest, Kehrer contacted the game wardens, who sent an officer out to inspect the deer. The warden in turn, contacted a biologist who asked several questions about the deer. That was when Kehrer learned this was not the first hairless deer to be killed in Illinois. The DNR has recorded at least two others, with Kehrer's buck being the third. The biologist also said the meat would be safe to eat.
"They (the state biologist) said we should take note when we clean it that it will have a very minimal fat on it," Kehrer said. "Due to having no hair on it, it was burning its fat off at a much faster rate than a normal deer."
It makes us wonder if this weird animal would have survived the winter since it had no protection against the cold and snow. He told Wide Open Spaces that he thinks it was a 1-1/2-year-old deer. He did not weigh the buck. Other than the missing hair, he said the animal is rather typical-looking for a deer of that age in their area.
After the call with the biologist, Kehrer dealt with the deer as he would any usual harvest. He noted his processor at Behrmann Meats in Albers, Illinois was thrilled with a deer without messy hair and with minimal fat, making it easier to cut up. Kehrer plans to have the buck mounted in a semi-upright position with a wall pedestal mount.
"I know lots of people wished I went with full body," Kehrer said in his post. "But to be honest, with no fur, it would have been very hard to hide any stitches. So, we went with an upgrade from our normal mounts for him."
Kehrer's buck was just the icing on the cake for what was a very successful season for his family. His father also harvested two bucks, and his son shot his second deer, ever. Congratulations to the whole family on their harvests. We think this is a season none of them will soon forget!