Whitetail deer do some strange things during the rut. There are tales of deer attacking 3D targets, decoys, people, and animals, jumping through glass windows, showing up in peculiar locations, and much more. Caution and common sense seem to fly right out the window during those hormone-fueled few weeks around November.
Kyle Schwabenbauer, co-host of the television show Wired Outdoors, filmed this incredible footage on the last day of the Pennsylvania archery season. His encounter with this buck while on the way to his treestand was anything but ordinary. This deer had some issues most likely caused by rut-time fighting with other bucks.
The video opens with the buck approaching, and seemingly unaware of, Schwabenbauer behind the camera. It isn't until he speaks up that the buck stops and seems to realize something isn't quite right.
"Back up dummy," Schwabenbauer said. "Don't be stupid...You need to go sleep it off"
He literally picks up one of his arrows and pocks the deer with the broadhead end of it. The deer hardly reacts to being poked not once, but multiple times. He even tapped the antlers with the arrow, which hardly elicited a response from the buck. This bizarre encounter goes on for a while before the buck decides to run off.
Pretty crazy, right? We've never seen a hunter poke a buck before. This buck had a bump on the left side of his head. This leaves us to believe Schwabenbauer's rut-injury theory may be credible.
In 2017, Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks studied 58 bucks to track movement patterns. One of the bucks suffered a life-threatening injury from rut fighting. According to the study, the buck was found "walking in circles and unable to flee" from biologists. An autopsy showed the buck had suffered a severe skull and brain injury.
MSU Deer Lab professor Steve Demarais told the Clarion Ledger the process is called "rut and post-rut stress-related mortality." Bucks can lose up to 20 to 35 percent of their body weight during the rut from fighting and not eating, leaving them vulnerable to infection and predation.
Perhaps this buck didn't blink while getting its antlers rattled with a broadhead because it had developed a thousand-yard stare. We don't recommend you emulate how this hunter pokes a buck with arrows.
This article was originally published on October 27, 2021.
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