Editors Blog

Huge Deer Survived Nasty Fight


Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Dan Schmidt was surprised when he realized the buck he shot had been gored in a fight with another Alabama bruiser.

Deer truly are built to survive. Take this 4-1/2-year-old Alabama buck that I shot last week as an example. When the deer appeared in the food plot before me, he appeared to be the picture of good health. He was thick, muscled, and strutted like the king of the woods. Little did I know that he was the recent recipient of an absolutely nasty wound.

After shooting and retrieving the buck, I noticed he had a 5-inch gash across the back of his neck. It was an obvious antler wound … sustained in a fight that likely occurred a week or more before my encounter with this buck. The wound had slightly scabbed over, but it had become infected and was oozing with green pus. The wound wouldn’t have killed him. He likely would have healed up nicely, and it probably wouldn’t have taken that long.

The buck’s wound reminds me of the research that we published in Deer & Deer Hunting a few years ago. In a scientific study, researchers learned that whitetails, when under stress, release high levels of B-endorphin. This natural release helps support rapid healing. Endorphins consist of morphine-like chemicals that are emitted from the pituitary gland. The researchers believe this allows the animal to not only heal rapidly, but to also experience little, if any, pain in the process.

One other thing that we have learned is that the whitetail’s rapid build-up of natural steroids and androgens in the bloodstream assist in the healing process. Researchers have also found that high levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone, helps promote healing, manage stress and suppress inflammation.