The Weirdest Critters I’ve Ever Hunted: 4-Legged Geese, Medusa Bucks, and Muletail Hybrids

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When you spend sufficient time within the discipline, likelihood is you’ll ultimately encounter a wierd critter or two. Mutants, albinos, melanistic creatures, animals with further appendages, hybrids, and critters with weird accidents are sometimes much more memorable than these good trophy specimens.

I’ve been fortunate to hunt all all through the world over the course of a number of many years. Amid all these hunts, I’ve stumbled into some actually odd animals. Right here’s a have a look at the weirdest.

4-Legged Duck

Duck with four legs.
A really distinctive mallard. Brad Fenson

A buddy and I had been on a week-long waterfowl journey, and had been selecting up the geese on the finish of our shoot. Limits of huge honkers, specks, and a mixture of mallards and pintails saved our shotguns roaring. Everybody was busy working when a yell got here from the sting of the decoys.

“Which considered one of you jokers put this pair of pigeon legs on this mallard,” requested a buddy.

He had picked up a younger drake mallard and, taking a second to have a look at it, found that it had an additional set of legs dangling off its stomach. The additional legs made our buddy shake in disgust, instantly throwing it to the bottom as if it was a toxic snake. Certain sufficient, the younger mallard drake had 4 legs. That’s proper, a four-legged duck! What are the percentages?

The duck was the discuss of searching camp, and a number of other of us posted footage on social media, and the phrase unfold like wildfire. Individuals studying the posts accused us of pulling a hoax, and plenty of known as the photographs faux. Nevertheless, some hen and duck farmers chimed in to say it was not all that uncommon with fowl. There have been provides to mount the hen, ship it to the Smithsonian Institute, or donate it for science. Ultimately, our buddy from Ranchland Outfitters determined to get the hen mounted, and now he has fairly the dialog piece.

Mallard-Pintail Hybrid

mallard hybrid
The creator checks out a mallard-pintail hybrid. Brad Fenson

Looking in a harvested pea discipline in Saskatchewan final 12 months, I ran from the blind to retrieve downed birds and set them on the bottom within the blind. Taking a second to catch my breath, I seemed down at one of many birds and instantly noticed one thing totally different. There was a drake mallard and pintail within the combine, however a 3rd hen didn’t match both profile. I shortly examined the hen and proclaimed that we had taken a mallard-pintail hybrid. The hunt stopped as everybody wished to see the distinctive duck.

READ NEXT: The 8 Coolest Hybrid Ducks and Geese

Hybrid geese are comparatively frequent, however most hunters won’t ever see one. Chasing speckle-bellied geese in central Alberta, we discovered a speck-snow goose cross. The uniquely coloured hen stood out within the flock, and we studied it carefully with a recognizing scope. We set as much as hunt that hen thrice, and though we noticed it in bigger flocks of geese, it by no means got here shut sufficient for a shot.

Whitetail-Mule Deer Hybrid

Mule deer whitetail hybrid
A mule deer/whitetail hybrid. S. Lingle

A particular hunt in Alberta takes place on the Camp Wainwright Army Base annually. It was began as a organic hunt to assemble data on deer, and one examine was set to find out if whitetails and mule deer crossbreed. I used to be on the bottom when a hunter confirmed up on the test station to search out out that he had shot a real hybrid. Biologists had been fast to inform anybody attempting to establish a hybrid deer by trying on the head or antlers that “you’re trying on the incorrect finish.”

The metatarsal gland on a whitetail is about one inch lengthy, not together with the tuft of hair, and is situated low on the decrease leg. In mule deer, the gland is about 4 inches lengthy and on the higher half of the decrease leg. In a hybrid, the gland is midway up in the midst of the decrease leg and measures 2 to 2.5 inches. The metatarsal gland measurements and placement on the leg are one of the best methods to find out whether or not the deer is a hybrid.

One other good attribute to counsel hybridization lies underneath the tail. A mule deer is bare underneath the tail to the tip. A whitetail has hole hair on the underside of the tail. A hybrid is partially to midway bare relying on whether or not it’s a first era hybrid.

Piebald Deer

piebald buck
The creator’s piebald buck. Brad Fenson

Not all animals with white coloration are albino. A piebald or pied animal has massive patches of hair with no pigmentation. The colour of the animal’s pores and skin beneath its hair additionally has no pigment underneath the white patches. An animal with albinism lacks pigment within the pores and skin, hair, and even eyes. A real albino can have purple or pink eyes. The identical goes for melanistic animals, that are very darkish or stable black, with the other traits of an animal with albinism and stable patches of pigment. Piebald is also known as calico.

Looking in south Texas, I got here throughout a piebald deer that no person on the ranch had seen earlier than. The buck sported mature antlers, and it didn’t take lengthy to determine to hunt the uniquely coloured buck. I’ve seen a number of animals with calico markings, however by no means a real albino.

Melanistic Gobbler

Melanistic Gobbler
The creator’s melanistic tom, taken in New Zealand. Brad Fenson

Looking in New Zealand, it was not tough to identify a melanistic gobbler in a flock of untamed turkeys. The darkish pigments normally make a melanistic critter totally black. This turkey had a single white feather on its again however was in any other case jet black. I efficiently shot the hen from a flock of about 20 different turkeys with common coloring.

READ NEXT: Wildlife Biologists Spot “Rarest of Rare” Melanistic Mule Deer in West Texas

Albino Animals

Albino critters are sometimes thought of to own particular significance, energy, or spirit by some. White bison are thought of sacred by First Nations. In components of the nation, distinctive whitetail deer or black bears are sometimes protected as a consequence of lacking pigments, making the distinctive creatures seem albino. The genetic traits might be handed on to affect localized populations.

Through the years, I’ve come throughout a number of animals with totally different traits: a white porcupine that was a real albino with pink eyes, and white groundhogs and floor squirrels, with darkish eyes.

Medusa Buck

The medusa buck.
The creator’s buddy took this one-of-a-kind whitetail they known as the “Medusa Buck”. Brad Fenson

Looking within the Sandhills of Nebraska, I harvested an amazing non-typical mule deer, which may very well be thought of bizarre, however seemed regular in comparison with the buck my buddy ended up taking. I tagged together with my buddy and we noticed two whitetail bucks. It didn’t take us lengthy to sneak throughout the grassy hills to chop the space. As luck would have it, a truck drove by the shelterbelt the place we had seen the bucks, chasing them from cowl. The pair of dollars ran towards us, and I couldn’t imagine my eyes. An enormous ten-point buck sported antlers that will rating past 160 inches. The opposite was a freak, with so many factors that it was unimaginable to depend them when the animal was on the run. After all, my buddy shot on the freak, lacking clear on the primary shot. I held my breath, hoping to see the deer up shut, and a second shot killed the deer cleanly.

We raced to the deer after which stood in awe of the distinctive buck, which had knocked some junk off its rack within the tumble. On nearer inspection, the buck was lacking its testicles, and the dearth of testosterone meant the antlers saved rising and by no means dropped like a typical buck.

The expansion was extra like a fingernail than hardened bone. A core grew from the deer’s head such as you would see with horn development (not antler development). We picked up the items, and the distinctive Medusa-like buck now adorns my buddy’s wall.

Non-Typical Deer

Freaky antlers and non-typical development are at all times thrilling to see. The distinctive traits typically attraction to hunters, and an animal sporting non-typical or asymmetrical development, is usually focused. It helps when the antlers are on a mature animal. Whereas searching in South Dakota, a wide-antlered buck caught my consideration, however the lengthy droptine off the best antler made it essential buck. Luck was on my aspect, and the buck ultimately chased a doe up the draw I used to be watching.

Bull With a Damaged Cranium

bull with a broken skull
Look carefully at this bull’s antler bases. Brad Fenson

Looking the third rifle season on public land in Colorado, I used to be blessed to discover a massive six-point bull bedded in a burn space. I watched the bull for half an hour, hoping it could stand and supply a shot. Thank goodness it stayed in its mattress, as a result of an infinite bull ultimately stood up from decrease down the hill that was not seen earlier than. I noticed factors, mass, and peak that made my coronary heart race with pleasure. A very good shot despatched the bull crashing down a steep slope. Upon arriving on the bull, I seen it was extra distinctive than I had realized. After inspecting extra carefully, we discovered that the bull had damaged its pedicle and antler base out of its cranium and it grew again identified of the elk’s brow.

It’s unimaginable to find out what number of units of antlers the bull grew out of the broken pedicle. However the bull was as big, and if the antler had been rising within the appropriate portion of the cranium, the bull would have proven great width. Nonetheless, it’s an unbelievable trophy that I’ll always remember.

Recognizing Oddities

You by no means know what you will notice when searching. Distinctive alternatives and animals might present up anyplace and at any time. Usually, a hunter should look carefully to make sure they know what they’re earlier than taking pictures. An albino goose, for instance, might look extra like a swan. Many waterfowl hybrids are laborious to establish on the wing.

Realizing when laws permit for the harvest of uniquely coloured critters can be important. Kermode bears on the Pacific coast are protected due to their white or cream-colored hides. Deer missing pigment within the hair are protected in some jurisdictions for social causes. Some hunters would love a chance to reap an odd-ball critter, whereas others are disgusted. A duck with 4 legs can create a stir, and it was a superb factor the additional appendages weren’t noticed till after the duck was picked up on the finish of the hunt. A few of our searching crew wouldn’t contact it.

With social media, there are many hoaxes in relation to distinctive animals. Nevertheless, the actually extraordinary animals ought to be checked out as a celebration of time within the discipline and one-of-a-kind tales that few hunters will ever get the prospect to inform.


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