By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
A recent video of a sizable mule deer buck doing a sort of “limbo” to get his antlers worked undeath a metal gate has been making the rounds of wildlife-focused social media channels around the region.
It’s impressive, say a pair of experienced Wyoming hunters, but such behavior isn’t unheard of among older and wiser mule deer.
“That was a cool video,” Shawn Blajszczak of Powell, Wyoming region director for the Mule Deer Foundation, told Cowboy State Daily.
“I have seen that (video)” added Johnny Bergeson of Laramie, an avid hunter, guide and taxidermist. “It’s pretty cray (crazy) how smart he is and how aware he was of his antlers.”
Indeed, the buck does seem to understand that the only way to navigate the gap between the metal cattle gate and the ground is to work his antlers through one side at a time. He then belly-crawls through to the other side.
However, nobody should be surprised by how smart mule deer can be, Blajszczak said. Animals that live long enough to get as big as the buck in the video have to be crafty to have survived natural predators and numerous seasons being hunted by humans.
“I have seen big bucks and big bulls do similar things,” he said.
He Did It In Velvet
The video was taken this fall in Colorado, according to the social media accounts of Good Bull Outdoors, where the video originated. Managers of the accounts did not respond to requests for comment from Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
There also was a claim to have observed the same buck pulling the same elaborate move to get under the gate this spring when he was still “in velvet.”
When deer and elk antlers first grow in the spring and early summer, they are covered with a velvet-like substance that helps protect the antlers while they grow and harden. Though it might be ascetically pleasing, the “velvet” is actually a concentrated network of blood vessels.
As the summer wears on, the velvet dries out and apparently starts to irritate the animal. Deer will frequently rub it off against trees and bush. That eventually reveals the gleaming fall racks coveted by hunters.