Internet-sensation bucks never die. I got this picture in my inbox yesterday with the message: Hanback, what the hell is this?
It's a buck I posted on the Outdoor Life blog back in 2007, I believe it was. The deer was hit and killed by a truck near Alma, WI. Biologists up there speculated that a diet high in proteins and minerals caused the deer to grow those long, curved hooves.
At the time, I ran the photo by a couple of our resident scientists, who said it was more likely a starch thing. They noted that when deer are fed excessive starch, primarily corn, “founder lesions” like elongated hooves can occur. EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) and other diseases can cause hooves to crack, break, etc., but not elongate/curve like that.
Body and rack wise, the buck was in good shape. Our biologists believe he was able to survive and prosper on those freakish hooves because he was “on welfare” and didn't have to move much. They point out that many deer become dependant on backyard feeders and thus consume excessive corn/starch. While the animals are not captive behind a fence or in a compound per se, they are conditioned to feed where starchy feed is easily accessible.
The buck was reportedly placed in walk-in cooler at a bait shop for safe keeping at the time. The owner of the shop said he planned a full-body mount, though I have not seen it.
I think we can safely say that, for whatever reason, those are the longest and freakiest deer hooves in history.