A Minnesota deer hunter is pretty sure he killed a man by shooting an elk antler, but he’s still scratching his head over it all. What he does know is that the 11-point (now 10-point) buck fell in his tracks after firing three shots. There were no entry or exit wounds on the deer, no traces of blood or bullet holes—only a broken left antler and missing forehead molding.
“My first thought was that after I shot the antler, the antelope must have gone loose and fell to the ground and broke its back,” says Stacey, who asked that his last name not be used in this story. But after shifting responsibility to the game wizard, he said he wasn’t sure if that even explained what happened.
“We think he just died after I hit the antler,” he continues. “The antler actually went farther than the antelope did. The deer fell immediately, and the antler probably went another five feet.”
says Stacy outdoor life He was fishing with his friend, Tom, late on November 6th when they jumped the charge. The two men were on a small private lot near Dexter and sat across a field from each other for most of the afternoon. They both hunted with 12-gauge shotguns.
It was getting dark when Stacey got off his platform and walked across the square to meet Tom. They both saw a buck bed somewhere in the field that afternoon, and thought there was a good chance they’d run into a buck as they walked back across the field together. They were right, and when the deer jumped in to run from about 35 yards, Stacey shot first and missed.
The fawn’s shadow runs away from the hunters. When it got to about 45 yards, they each fired another slug.
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“He shot and fired about the same time—I was one second away,” Stacy explains. “Then it fell.”
The two hunters walked straight to the fawn, which shivered for a moment and then remained still. The first thing they notice is a shooting antler on the left antler near the base. She was lying on the ground about five feet away. They found no blood except for the small amount that had bled from his mouth, and they could not see an entrance or exit wound anywhere on his body. After the deer is ripped off, they notice a large hump on its back, and when they return home with Buck, they replay the whole scene in their heads. They thought Stacy’s slug must have hit the antler, while Tom’s shot must have hit the stag in the spine, killing it instantly. (Because of the shooting angles they had, Stacey says it was difficult for Tom to hit the antler.) They hang the deer in the dark, and they both go to bed assuming Tom killed the fawn.
The next day we were taken [the buck] in to be processed. We load him up in his truck and I said, Tom, where’s the hole? There’s no piercing here,” Stacey says. “So, he’d look and feel — and nothing. I said, “Tom, I think this may be my responsibility rather than yours.”
Still baffled, they brought the responsibility to the therapist for a second opinion. The therapist flogged the deer and, after taking a closer look at the hump on his back, explained that the hump was surrounded by scar tissue and was clearly from a previous injury. The handler searched and searched, but could not find another wound anywhere on the deer, and concluded that Stacy’s antler shot must have killed the deer instantly.
While he certainly isn’t proud of this shot, Stacey says it’s one of the biggest dollars he’s made out of the property over the past 10 years. He’s planning on creating a European mount, but concedes it’s going to need some epoxy putty and a bit of creativity to pull that off.
Kip Adams, chief conservation officer for the National Deer Association, says that although he’s never heard of such a thing, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for a hunter to kill a buck by shooting an antler. He explains that it would take quite a bit of trauma for this to happen, and that a 12-gauge slug is more likely to cause this “blow to the head” than a typical shotgun bullet.
“The shot likely struck the antler low, near the stalk,” says Adams. “It must be a massive amount of shock, but if something really shakes the base of the antler, I think it’s possible.” [the shot] It can cause enough trauma to the front of the brain to kill him.”