The Zombie Buck!

If you’ve spent much time in the woods, you’ll know that some weird stuff happens out there. I’ve seen everything from critters not native to the region of the country to drones racing around over my head. But this buck takes the cake.  

As I was driving home from town the other day with my wife and kids, we passed what appeared to be a nice, mature buck tangled in a barbed wire fence along the highway. He was moving around a little bit, but he wasn’t struggling. We quickly turned around and went to investigate. After contacting the authorities and waiting for them to arrive, we approached the buck to see if we could free him from his predicament. To our surprise, he wasn’t tangled at all, rather just standing there staring off into space. We approached cautiously and could tell right away that something wasn’t right. While the buck was alive, he was completely unresponsive to our presence and only minimally responded to our pokes and prods. After making sure that he was free from any possible entrapments, we gave him a little time to come to his senses and scurry off back to the woods. Safe from the busy, rural 4 lane. Unfortunately, this buck’s time was limited. After a lengthy discussion with the Sheriff’s department and our local Game Warden, it was decided that this buck needed to be put down. 

Our speculation at the time was that he either had a disease like Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, commonly referred to as EHD, or that he had a brain aneurism. Regardless of the cause, none of us wanted to let this champion buck succumb to the gruesome fate of being coyote food that night. After the buck was dispatched, we went ahead and performed a necropsy. During our initial examination, we found a puss filled wound at the base of this buck’s left antler. After further examination, it was determined that this buck had a fractured skull near the base of his left pedicle (where the antler fuses to the skull). The infection had spread into his brain and was likely the cause of his bizarre behavior. Nevertheless, we sent samples off for testing just to be sure. The testing process takes about a week and can be performed in several places around the state. If you suspect an animal you’ve harvested to be diseased and would like to get it tested or if you’d just like to contribute to one of the many ongoing biological research projects, I’d encourage you to reach out to your state’s wildlife agency for more information on testing procedures, locations and projects. 

If you’d like to see more pictures and a close up video of this buck, you can find them on our Facebook and Instagram pages. 




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