Editors Blog

Whitetail Freaks: A Truly Giant Buck

Cactus racks are caused by atrophied testicles, and the antlers are usually retained for the rest of the animal's life. (photo courtesy of David Genderau)

Saw this one today on the Facebook page of fellow whitetail fanatic David Gendreau. It is unusual, but not uncommon in the whitetail world.

In short, this is what is known as a “cactus buck.” This condition dates back many decades in whitetails. In fact, one of the first person to document these weird antlers was Deer & Deer Hunting’s own Leonard Lee Rue III.

“Sometimes injury to internal organs prevents a buck from properly utilizing or metabolizing its food,” Rue said. “However, in these instances, the unusual formations of antler are related to incomplete testicle development. This results in permanent masses of velvet-covered antlers.”

The major difference with cactus bucks and normal bucks is shown in the fact that cactus bucks never shed their antlers (due to the lack of testosterone). These globs of velvet masses continue to grow for the deer’s lifetime. In Northern regions, parts these soft, spongy antlers can oftentimes freeze and fall off, resulting in even more bizarre configurations.